Sisters

Sisters

Sisters is a very early (1973) Brian de Palma film, one of those where he’s doing Hitchcock. Not just in the sense of making a film of the same murder thriller genre, or even of the same general style, but to the point of referencing specific elements from Hitchcock films, such as the witnessing of a murder through a window from another apartment.

The story is of grown women twins (Margot Kidder), one or both of whom is a murderess. Lurking on the outskirts of their lives is a sinister “ex-husband” who is decidedly uncomfortable when one of them brings home a date. Meanwhile a nosy neighbor journalist is sure the sisters are up to no good, and embarks on some freelance investigative and surveillance work, assisted significantly by a private eye she hires, and minimally by the skeptical police.

Purely in terms of superficial entertainment, this film is reasonably good. It held my interest, as you would certainly want a thriller to do.

But on the whole I don’t come away from it particularly impressed. Especially after having shortly before this seen the Hitchcockian With a Friend Like Harry…, a clearly superior film.

Kidder, especially with her annoying attempt at a French Canadian accent, is nowhere near as amusing or creepy a villain as “Harry.” She’s just a dorky bimbo.

Nor are the plot developments above the ordinary. The biggest early “twist” I predicted easily. The later revelations are confusing. I got the gist of them, but there are elements that are in a dream sequence or something, and I know I didn’t grasp all of those.

Plus those later developments are increasingly implausible, and possibly not fully coherent. Granted, you have to suspend disbelief to some extent for most movies, but the degree to which that’s necessary for the first half of this movie I found borderline but tolerable, whereas I engaged in more eye rolling in the second half.

Thumbs up for introducing the theme of a sane person getting stuck—intentionally or accidentally—in an asylum and finding whatever she says or does interpreted to fit the hypothesis that she belongs there. That’s a nightmarish situation that has always fascinated me. Thumbs down on then doing almost nothing with that set-up.

I’m probably sounding more negative than I should about Sisters. It’s watchable. There are a lot worse ways to spend an hour and a half. I just wouldn’t rate it very high.

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