Sister (film)

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Sister
French film poster for L'enfant d'en haut.jpg
French film poster
Directed by Ursula Meier
Written by Antoine Jaccoud
Ursula Meier
Starring Léa Seydoux
Cinematography Agnès Godard
Release date(s)
  • 13 February 2012 (2012-02-13) (Berlin)
  • 4 April 2012 (2012-04-04) (Switzerland)
Running time 93 minutes
Country Switzerland
Language French

Sister (French: L'Enfant d'en haut) is a 2012 Swiss drama film directed by Ursula Meier. The film competed in competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival,[1] where it won the Special Award, the Silver Bear.[2]

The film was selected as the Swiss entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards,[3] making the January shortlist.[4]

Plot[edit]

Twelve-year-old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) lives with his older sister Louise (Léa Seydoux) in a housing complex below a luxury Swiss ski resort. Despite his age, he supports both him and his sister by stealing equipment from the resort, refurbishing them to look new before reselling them to children at a discounted price. Though he makes a substantial sum of money through these sales, he spends most of it on Louise, buying her clothes and giving her money so that she can go on dates. Louise is selfish and irresponsible, unable to hold down a job and frequently going off with men, leaving Simon alone at home. Though Simon tries to teach her how to refurbish the skis, she leaves with Bruno (Yann Trégouët) on a short vacation.

At the ski resort, Simon meets tourist Kristin (Gillian Anderson) by helping her with her son's equipment. He introduces himself as Julien, explaining that he is alone because his parents are busy running a hotel. Later he eats lunch with her and is surprised when she insists on paying for the food, as he is used to financially supporting Louise. He also meets Mike (Martin Compston), an employee of the resort who catches him hoarding stolen skis. Mike is furious, but after Simon explains that he sells the skis to pay for food and basic necessities he decides to partner with him. Simon continues to steal equipment, and in return for some of it, Mike gives him more access to hide the stolen skis. Mike asks Simon about his parents, and Simon explains that they died in a car accident and that he is alone.

Louise returns from her trip with Bruno, who stays the night. Louise explains that Simon is only staying at their home temporarily. When Bruno asks Simon where he lives, Simon replies "with my parents" and says that they have a "fucked-up family." Bruno takes the siblings out driving in his BMW the next morning so that Louise can pick out a car and thus have better luck with getting a job. After Simon sees Bruno and Louise flirting with each other, he confesses that Louise is not his sister, but his mother. Upset, Louise begins to cry, telling her boyfriend that she was going to tell him eventually. A furious Bruno kicks them out of the car and leaves them to walk home by themselves. Louise, livid, demands that Simon follow her at a large distance; she keeps their true relationship a secret because of how hard it is to get a boyfriend and find a job while being a single parent. She says that he has been her "ball and chain" for twelve years, and he, furious, states that she's his, pointing out that he pays for her.

That night, Simon pays money to sleep beside his mother, and Louise only accepts after raising the price. Simon accepts, and Louise admits that she didn't want to keep him. When Simon asks why she did, she tells him that she only did so because everyone pressured her not to. After Simon falls asleep, Louise sneaks out of the house with the money and gets drunk. She's found passed out in a field the next morning, and Simon has to carry her home with the help of the neighborhood children. Simon realizes that she'd spent all of their money and they are broke.

Simon returns to the ski resort with another child, and Mike, angered at the sight of a younger boy stealing, rebukes Simon and refuses to steal the children's skis. Simon hides the skis anyway and steals coin purses but finds that he's only managed to steal a small sum of change. His stash of stolen equipment is found and he's thrown out of the resort. He tries and fails to sell the rest of his equipment on the side of the road.

Left without a source of income, Simon is forced to ask one of his old customers for food, but Louise cooks for him. She later takes him with her to her new job as part of a cleaning service, claiming that he's helping her with holiday cleaning. She gives him some money, telling him that she doesn't want to owe him a debt for his troubles. They end up at the cabin of Kristin, who is disappointed when she recognizes Simon and realizes that he's lied. Simon apologizes and attempts to hug her, but she rebuffs him. Later, she confronts Louise and tells her that a watch from the bathroom is missing, asking her to bring Simon in as well. Louise promises that she hadn't taken it, but does not believe Simon when he turns out his pockets. Louise finds the watch hidden in his pants, and Kristin coldly dismisses them.

Louise is infuriated that Simon cost her a job, and the two fight before returning home. Simon goes back to the resort one last time and finds that the guests are all leaving for the summer. He asks about a job but is rebuffed, and he is left staring out at the emptying resort. He takes a cable car back down and passes Louise, who is going up. Surprised and worried, she presses herself against the glass and calls to him, but she disappears from sight and Simon is left looking out after her.

Cast[edit]

Stars Kacey Mottet Klein and Léa Seydoux at a screening in April 2012.

Reception[edit]

Jaques Mandelbaum of The Guardian wrote "Meier explores the cruel physical and atmospheric contrasts between the two worlds, high and low, dwelling on the cloudy skies, grimy slush and the shadow cast by the peaks, which brings semi-darkness to the valley bottom."[5] The film was awarded The Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Foreign Feature Film at the 35th Starz Denver Film Festival. The award's jury made this statement about the film: "A well crafted narrative that explores the highs and lows of a complicated familial relationship with authentic performances, supported by grand cinematography, pulls you into the unfamiliar world of a childhood thief whose only constant is the love shared between him and his sister."[6]

As of December 2012, the film has a rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 51 reviews and an average score of 7.9/10.[7]

Awards[edit]

  • Athens International Film Festival - Golden Athena for Best Picture
  • 62nd Berlin International Film Festival - Silver Berlin Bear, Special Award
  • Buster International Children's Film Festival - Best Buster Award for Best Film for Children and Best Child Actor (Kacey Mottet Klein)
  • Cabourg Romantic Film Festival - Golden Swann for Meilleure actrice (Léa Seydoux)
  • Denver Film Festival - Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Foreign Feature Film

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Press Release, 9th Jan". berlinale.de. 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  2. ^ "Prizes of the International Jury 2012". Berlinale. 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-19. 
  3. ^ Blaney, Martin (21 September 2012). "Ursula Meier's Sister entered for Oscar race". Screen International (EMAP). Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "9 Foreign Language Films Vie For Oscar". Oscars. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  5. ^ Jaques Mandelbaum (1 May 2012). "Sister (L'Enfant d'En Haut)". Guardian Weekly. 
  6. ^ "35th Starz Denver Film Festival Award Winners". voices.yahoo.com. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  7. ^ "Sister Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 23, 2012. 

External links[edit]