Recaps & Reviews

The Sisters Brothers Is A Comedic, Violent Western You Won’t Want To Miss

Canadian author Patrick DeWitt has been writing witty, intelligent, dark comedy novels since 2009 when Ablutions was first released. Two years later he released his second novel, The Sisters Brothers, which arguably has been his most successful novel to date. Actor John C. Reilly liked the novel so much that he picked the rights up for it, and now a movie by the same is about to hit theaters after premiering at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.  

Eli and Charlie Sisters (played by John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix) are two hitmen brothers in the mid-1800s who have been sent by their boss to track down, torture and kill a chemist (Riz Ahmed) who has discovered a way to make gold prospecting a much easier task. Assisting them is John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) who was sent ahead to find the chemist and leave them messages along the way as to how to find them. As they travel south from Oregon City to San Francisco, Eli starts to express his desire for wanting more from his life than the one of violence they are living, but it might not be as simple of a life to leave as he wants it to be.

After seeing him in such movies as Step Brothers and Walk Hard, it’s sometimes easy to forgot that John C. Reilly is a pretty versatile actor who is also good at playing dramatic roles as well. In The Sisters Brothers he has his moments of comedy, but most of the time you feel sorry for his character who is stuck in a life he is desperately wanting to change. His character has a heart of gold beneath the dusty, violent exterior, and you find yourself hoping he can finally get the life he wants. Reilly is always good at playing the characters you want to cheer for, and who always seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to life. As usual, Phoenix does an incredible job getting into his role, and while he’s not nearly as likable as Reilly’s character, you find yourself feeling sorry for him as well. Phoenix always shows how good of an actor he is when playing the tragic characters. As for the movie itself, it is a little slow moving at times, but modern Westerns typically are. Thanks to the lead actors though, you will find yourself not minding the pace too much. The movie follows the plot of the book fairly closely, but even though there are differences they aren’t crucial to the story. The biggest thing to remember going into the movie though, is that it’s not the plot that really matters, but the characters themselves. You find yourself drawn to the Sisters Brothers story, and want to know where they end up, not how the adventure they are in ends. 

Even if you are not a fan of Westerns, you will still be drawn to The Sisters Brothers. It’s a story that could take place in any setting, or any time. It’s a movie about two brothers searching for their place in the world. And that’s always worth watching. 

By: Roderick Thedorff

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