Low-bud­get re­demp­tion for the ro­man­tic com­edy

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ran­dall King

IF the Hol­ly­wood ro­man­tic com­edy has be­come an al­most un­bear­able en­tity in the past few years, it is not for want of al­ter­na­tives.

The rom-com’s sal­va­tion is clearly in the camp of the low-bud­get indie realm. The genre needs fewer Katherine Hei­gls and Cameron Di­azes and more Rose­marie DeWitts and Aubrey Plazas, fewer Ger­ard But­lers and Justin Tim­ber­lakes and more Mark Du­plasses.

And if rum­ply, scruffy Mark Du­plass is not your idea of a ro­man­tic fan­tasy fig­ure, ladies, please re­call that one of the most ro­man­tic movies of all, Casablanca, starred an im­prob­a­ble love god named Humphrey Bog­art.

In Your Sis­ter’s Sis­ter, di­rec­tor Lynne Shel­ton’s fol­lowup to the un­likely bro­mance Hump­day, Du­plass is Jack, a guy still vis­i­bly griev­ing one year af­ter the death of his brother. His late sib­lings’s girl­friend Iris (Emily Blunt) sends him to a beau­ti­ful, bu­colic cabin in the Pa­cific North­west where he can have some alone time to think through his life.

But when he ar­rives there, he dis­cov­ers Iris’s sis­ter, Han­nah (Rose­marie DeWitt), al­ready set­tled in, lick­ing her wounds af­ter a breakup with her long­time girl­friend.

Af­ter an ini­tially awk­ward in­tro­duc­tion, tequila is con­sumed and an un­ex­pected sex­ual en­counter oc­curs. The next morn­ing, the awk­ward fac­tor is ramped up con­sid­er­ably when Iris shows up. De­lighted to see her sis­ter, Iris Mark Du­plass, Emily Blunt and Rose­marie DeWitt Cine­math­eque 14A 91 min­utes

½ out of five con­fesses to her that she may be in love with Jack. And Jack, given his pan­icky pleas to Han­nah to keep their dal­liance a se­cret, would seem to re­cip­ro­cate.

In more hack­neyed hands, this un­wieldy love tri­an­gle might have re­sulted in an egre­gious farce. Shel­ton’s ap­proach is to ground the char­ac­ters in sub­stan­tial (but not far-fetched) back sto­ries and let the com­edy emerge from char­ac­ter, not sit­com con­trivance.

The movie also gives due to the sis­terly bond as much as the more con­ven­tional ro­man­tic one. Blunt and DeWitt are both sub­stan­tial dra­matic ac­tresses and their mu­tual in­tel­li­gence sets both apart from the rom-com’s typ­i­cal ner­vous-ninny hero­ine.

As for Du­plass, he isn’t likely to beat out your Tim­ber­lakes or Ash­ton Kutch­ers for roles when it comes to ro­man­tic leads, but un­like those guys, his off-the-cuff nat­u­ral­ism makes him an ap­peal­ing and (for guys) rec­og­niz­able ro­man­tic hero.

He may not look like the white knight who will save the hero­ine. But given his comic chops and shaggy charm, he could help save the genre.

MON­GREL ME­DIA

Jack and Iris and Han­nah, sit­tin’ in a...: From left, Du­plass, Blunt and DeWitt in My Sis­ter’s Sis­ter.

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