Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon MOVIES: (LFF 2018) The Sisters Brothers - Review

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

MOVIES: (LFF 2018) The Sisters Brothers - Review

Share on Reddit

The Sisters Brothers is one of the most low-key and unconventional westerns that I've seen, bringing an incredibly talented cast to the table that includes the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal. This film introduces us to the two brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters, who are seasoned outlaws in the employee of a bounty hunter, a proto-Al Capone simply referred to The Commodore, who always feels like this invisible, scary, off-screen presence. We catch up with them at the start of the film on a mission to hunt down a gold prospector Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), on a journey that turns out to be one that tests their relationship to the limit.

The cast is fantastic and Jacques Audiard manages to make them tick really well. Phoenix and Reilly take up most of the screentime and their chemistry together is fantastic and it makes their relationship as brothers all the more believable. Also interesting to watch unfold is the friendship between Warm and Gyllenhaal's writer John Morris, who Charlie views as pretentious and insufferable, and it's easy to see why someone in Charlie's position would develop a deep dislike for Morris.

The Sisters Brothers feels completely separate from the rest of the western genre in its narrative which plays against convention so well. Whilst technically billed as a western comedy, the drama takes a more serious turn than I thought it would, and although there are laughs, there are moments where the drama often gets surprisingly dark and gory, not shying away from showing blood. But these moments are sparse, and Audiard manages to make the comedic moments feel right at home, never undercutting the drama about life on the frontier and in the wilderness. Not overloading on comedy feels very much like a good decision as it would undercut the stronger, more impactful moments that the film has to offer.

If you're familiar with the Coen Brothers then you can see the similarities here. It's a more consistent film than the Coen Brothers' latest effort, The Ballad of Busters Scruggs, and the touches created in the film's more thrilling moments to make it more suspenseful really help create an excellent sense of a cat-and-mouse chase in the wild west. This is a film of two halves and the chase happens very much in the first, but it does allow us to get an insight into both how the pursuers and the prey operate and work as characters in time for their paths to collide in the second act.

Those expecting a more traditional western not unlike the recent Denzel Washington-starring The Magnificent Seven remake (of the remake which itself was a version of Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai) will be disappointed. It plays against type and keeps that low-key formula throughout. It has some interesting commentary on life in the wild and the dangers and benefits that come with it, and with the Gold Rush very much being the stage setter for this movie, it's interesting to see that the film does a good job at exploring the lengths that some will go for gold.

The film doesn't have a clear-cut structure of black and white morality that most movies tend to have, especially westerns. Its characters aren't all good and they aren't all bad, and it makes them more human and fail-able because of it. The decision not to romanticise the Wild West sees the characters come into all sorts of dangers, there's a big moment with a Spider fairly on in the film that shows how unforgiving the West can be. The Sisters Brothers has echoes of Netflix's mini-series Godless and continues the trend of mostly incredible modern westerns that have come to the big screen over the last few years, offering an inventive take on a genre many thought was dead.

Sign Up for the SpoilerTV Newsletter where we talk all things TV!


SpoilerTV Available Ad-Free!

Support SpoilerTV is now available ad-free to for all subscribers. Thank you for considering becoming a SpoilerTV premmium member!
Latest News