The Sisters Brothers
Panorama | Special Presentations
Kicking off with a spectacularly staged shootout in which bullets and profanities fly with equal velocity, The Sisters Brothers serves notice that Jacques Audiard (Dheepan, Rust and Bone) feels right at home on the range.
Adapted from a novel by British Columbia-born Patrick deWitt, set in Oregon circa 1851 and pitched in a darkly comic register, this is the tale of Eli (John C. Reilly) and Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix). Routinely drunk but deceptively deadly, these professional men of violence have been charged with assassinating a gold prospector (Riz Ahmed) who’s purportedly betrayed their cold-blooded benefactor (Rutger Hauer). Little do they realize that a detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) is also on their quarry’s trail and perhaps ready be swayed to his cause.
Trust a modern French master to make the most of some of the more intriguing faces in American movies. As captured by cinematographer Benoît Debie (who also shot VIFF 18 selection Climax), their countenances are as striking to behold as the imposing landscapes they traverse. In their eyes and sour expressions, we witness hardened men coming to grips with the realization that their age is coming to a close. With the frontier spawning new communities overnight, barbarism is ceding to civilization. And while the Sisters Brothers seem intent on going out in a blaze of glory, the fates seem to have other plans. Fortunately, they also have a wicked sense of humour, ensuring that this Western is a Gold Rush of melancholic comedy.
Silver Lion: Best Director, Venice 18