The Sisters Brothers (film)
|The Sisters Brothers|
|Directed by||Jacques Audiard|
|Screenplay by||Jacques Audiard|
|Based on||The Sisters Brothers|
by Patrick deWitt
|Music by||Alexandre Desplat|
|Edited by||Juliette Welfling|
|Distributed by||Mirror Releasing (United States)|
UGC Distribution (France)
|Box office||$13.1 million|
The Sisters Brothers is a 2018 Western crime drama film directed by Jacques Audiard from a screenplay he co-wrote with Thomas Bidegain, based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt. An American and French co-production, it is Audiard's first English-language work. The film stars John C. Reilly (who also produced) and Joaquin Phoenix as the notorious assassin brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters, and follows the duo as they chase after two men (Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed) who have banded together to search for gold.
The film had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival on 2 September 2018, where it won the Silver Lion for Best Direction, and was theatrically released in the United States on 21 September 2018. The Sisters Brothers received positive reviews from critics, with most praise going to its performances, characters, direction and soundtrack. It was a box office bomb, grossing $13.1 million against its $38 million production budget. It was the final feature film featuring Rutger Hauer released before his death, although he had finished filming several projects released after his passing.
Set in the American West in 1851, brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters are gunfighters hired by a wealthy businessman, known as the Commodore. He wants them to kill a man named Hermann Warm.
John Morris, a private detective, has been engaged by the Commodore to track Warm down and hand him over to the Sisters brothers. Morris finds Warm traveling by wagon train to California with the Gold Rush and befriends him. They travel to Jacksonville where, unbeknown to Warm, Morris has arranged his rendezvous with the Sisters brothers. Warm finds Morris’ handcuffs, realizes his true intentions, and threatens him at gunpoint but Morris overpowers him. Warm reveals that he is en route to find gold using a chemical formula of his own invention; the Sisters brothers have been sent to retrieve the formula, most likely by torturing Warm before killing him. Refusing to allow an innocent man’s murder, Morris frees Warm and the two leave Jacksonville. On the road toward San Francisco, Warm reveals that his ultimate plan is to create a utopian society, free from greed and other social ills in Dallas, Texas.
The brothers' pursuit is plagued by misfortune. A grizzly bear attacks their camp and mauls a horse, Eli almost dies from a venomous spider bite and Charlie is repeatedly drunk and too hung over to ride. When they discover Morris' betrayal in Jacksonville, they follow the pair to Mayfield. At Ms. Mayfield's hotel and brothel, she denies having seen Warm and Morris but offers the brothers a warm welcome. A sympathetic prostitute warns Eli of an impending attack and he attempts to leave with a drunken Charlie but they are cornered by gunslingers hired by Mayfield. The brothers kill the gunslingers and interrogate Mayfield as to Warm's and Morris’ whereabouts, before murdering and robbing her.
In San Francisco, Charlie and Eli argue about continuing their hunt. Eli wishes to retire but Charlie angrily rejects this idea. The next day, Charlie reveals that he has found a claim staked in Morris’ name a few days' ride away. Eli agrees to complete the hunt as their final job.
On the way to the claim site, the brothers are ambushed and captured by Warm and Morris, who are then attacked by Mayfield's men sent before her death to claim the formula for herself. The four men team up to kill Mayfield's men, after which Charlie and Eli agree to help Warm and Morris find gold in exchange for half the takings. Warm and Morris decide to prospect together and create a phalanstère in Dallas. Working to dam the river, the new partners develop a camaraderie. Eli reveals to Warm that Charlie killed their abusive, alcoholic father when they were young, and that Charlie's short temper and violent tendencies put him in danger, so Eli reluctantly took up their present employment to protect him.
The dam is completed and Warm explains that when his chemical formula is added to water, it causes gold ore to glow briefly, but is extremely caustic. The men pour the formula into the river and begin gathering the gold. When the glow begins to fade, Charlie panics and tries to add more formula, but spills the undiluted substance onto his hand and into the river. Eli rushes out of the river to restrain Charlie, while the undiluted formula badly injures Warm and Morris. The next day, Warm succumbs to his injuries while Morris shoots himself to end his suffering.
Eli takes Charlie to the nearest town, where a doctor amputates his arm. Hired guns sent by the Commodore arrive and demand their surrender. Eli shoots them and he and Charlie decide they must kill the Commodore. They arrive in Oregon City to find that the Commodore has died. During the brothers' visit to the Commodore's open casket, Eli punches the Commodore's corpse to verify the Commodore has indeed died. The brothers return home to their mother; though initially suspicious, she welcomes them in.
- John C. Reilly as Eli Sisters
- Joaquin Phoenix as Charlie Sisters
- Jake Gyllenhaal as John Morris
- Riz Ahmed as Hermann Kermit Warm
- Rebecca Root as Mayfield
- Allison Tolman as saloon prostitute
- Rutger Hauer as the Commodore
- Carol Kane as Mrs. Sisters, the brothers' mother
- Ian Reddington as Mr. Sisters, the brothers' father
- Aldo Maland as young Eli
- Theo Exarchopoulos as young Charlie
- Richard Brake as Rex
- Creed Bratton as Quarrel Saloon Patron 2
In 2011, it was announced that the film rights to the novel The Sisters Brothers had been sold to John C. Reilly's production company, and Reilly was set to play one of the brothers. Four years later, French director Jacques Audiard announced on the radio station RTL that he would direct the film, his first English-language feature. On 25 April 2016, Deadline Hollywood reported that Joaquin Phoenix had joined the project. In February 2017, Variety reported that Jake Gyllenhaal had also been cast, later announcing that Riz Ahmed joined as well. In May, Variety stated that Annapurna Pictures would also produce and co-finance the film, alongside Why Not Productions, with Megan Ellison serving as an executive producer on the project.
The Sisters Brothers had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 2 September 2018. It was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September, and was theatrically released on 21 September 2018. Annapurna paid between $7.5–9 million for the North American distribution rights.
As of May 9, 2019[update], The Sisters Brothers has grossed $3.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $10 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $13.1 million, against a production budget of $38 million.
During its limited opening weekend, on 21 September, the film grossed $115,575 from four theaters, an average of $28,894 per venue. It expanded to 27 theaters in its second weekend, making $233,258, and to 54 theaters in its third, grossing $203,525. By its seventh weekend of release, the film had crossed $3 million domestically, after grossing $66,665 in 146 theaters that weekend. Its widest release was at 1,141 theaters.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 87%, based on 200 reviews, with an average rating of 7.37/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Sisters Brothers rides familiar genre trails in occasionally unexpected ways - a satisfying journey further elevated by its well-matched leading men." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100, based on reviews from 44 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, calling it "resoundingly enjoyable and funny". William Bibbiani of IGN assigned it an 8.0 out of 10, saying, "John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix shine as wild west hitmen who are just smart enough to know they should be smarter, [and] whose quest leads them in unexpected, funny, and surprisingly emotional directions." Owen Gleibermen of Variety wrote, "The Sisters Brothers is too light to be a true drama and too heavy to be a comedy."
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