|Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly|
This weekend I saw Sisters Brothers. I write westerns, so I’m critical of Hollywood ventures into the genre. They often mess it up by leaning toward the politically correct or destroying the story with CGI. This time they got it right. The Sisters Brothers is a good western film worthy of the fine novel by Patrick deWitt. That’s saying a lot. Except for Lonesome Dove, most directors view a book as a loose guide, rather than a roadmap. (hint, hint)
The Sisters Brothers is a character study ... and a study of not particularly admirable characters. The appeal is in the dialogue and humor. Thankfully, there are few special effects to take the viewer away from the story. I might be tempted to think Hollywood has learned a lesson, but I suspect this is a one-off because the novel’s author is Canadian and the film’s director French. Leave it to foreigners to revitalize an American genre. Jacques Audiard keeps the film within the spirit of the novel and directs a true western without relying on grandiose landscapes, unhistorical duels, or CGI. He does include a lot of killing, however. After all, the Sisters Brother are assassins.
The film is rated 85% at Rotten Tomatoes.
Here is the New York Times review.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety’s Chief Film Critic seemed more interested in virtue signaling than critiquing the movie, but here is his review as well. I find Gleiberman’s review interesting because it displays many of the biases which keep Hollywood from making more good Westerns.