Little Sister Reviews
Affecting not just to the studio executives concerned only the box office receipts but to fans and critics alike resulting from an amazing ability to tell compelling stories with amazing attention to every detail necessary to create a great movie. With budgets, more than hundreds of millions of dollars these recent masterpieces of cinema are understandably quite excessive in every aspect of production. I freely admit that I greatly enjoy these films, but ever since I became a true aficionado of cinema, there is always a particular spot on my list of favorite movies for independent films. Typically, the construction of these accomplished on a shoestring budget with fewer funds allocated to the entire production then a big budget movie sets aside for morning coffee and pastry at the craft service table. All filmmakers would say no to financial success most of the artisans in the community of independent movies are primarily concerned with the profit margin. They make movies because they are concerned with the preservation and extension form of artistic expression possible through cinema. It is not unusual for such movies to be financed by the credit card to friends and families, or more recently by kick starter campaigns. The most recent in the indie film to come across my desk is one of the most well-crafted, imaginative and innovative movies that I've seen in a long time, 'Little Sister.' Filmmakers involved in films of this category begin with a very familiar theme applying their imagination to imbue it with such nuances as to make it something fresh and highly entertaining. In this particular instance, it's a story of returning to your childhood home learning to cope with the changes within you and those you have left behind.
Colleen Lunsford (Addison Timlin) is a novitiate at a nunnery, Brooklyn's Sisters of Mercy, was approaching the point when she must make a final decision regarding her calling symbolizing her dedication by taking her final vows. Colleen receives a message from a family that her brother has returned home. Her brother Jacob (Keith Poulson), had been in the Army serving in Iraq until a catastrophic injury inflicted by IED horribly disfigured his face. Colleen approached the Mother Superior (Barbara Crampton) and requested to borrow her car for several days to return home and sort things out before making that all-important decision. With some reluctance, the Reverend Mother agrees to place a five day limit on the loan. Colleen had never really gotten along with her family always feeling as if she was an outsider, unable to connect with her parents, Joani (Ally Sheedy) and Bill (Peter Hedges). During her teens Colleen was infatuated with being Goth, I had died dark black matching lipstick makeup and clothing. When she returns to her old black makeup is still there on the dresser as well as the inverted cross over the bed. After setting the course right side up, she tries to settle back in to a room that holds so many memories of her past life. Reinforcing her memories of the past occurs when she reconnects with her former best friend and fellow Goth, Emily (Molly Plunk) where try to move on with my life although remaining in the same town.
Jacob had isolated himself in the guest house belly ever coming out Billy socializing even with his family. The only evidence that he's in the room is the near constant presence of the loud, percussion heavy, music emanating from behind the closed door. Jacob is refusing to acknowledge his return from a theater of war as well as eschewing the role of hero now attached to him. CNN has been after him for an interview, something that Jacob was against adamantly. As a novitiate back in Brooklyn Colleen had devoted her time in prayer and reflection on helping me poor and homeless of the borough. Now that she's back in her hometown in North Carolina Colleen realizes that she is the one beset by the emotional and psychological damage that she has to reconcile before fully committing to life as a nun. Her parentsare stuck in their rebellious youth made very clear to Colleen that she uncovers a small green box that contains their stash of marijuana. The audiences permitted to see what happens when Bill and Joan entertain, having friends over for the evening. One of them turns out to be their dealer with a professional looking attaché case containing his various wares consisting of numerous types of a pot of different strain each with their specific effects. He is also pushing his unique hallucinogenic mushrooms dipped in the finest Mexican white chocolate. Colleen's parents were young smoking pot was a form of rebellion that now has become the popular libation of choice replacing the traditional cocktails after dinner.
Colleen playfully alters the image dying her hairy bright pink to contrast with some of the dark makeup from her Goth days. There is a method to this madness, she wants to take Jacob outside into town with her trying to put his mind at ease that everyone is looking at him by ensuring her appearance is so outrageous is to draw the public's attention to herself. Her plan does work as she can get Jacob to leave because of the security of the guest room finally. As a five day limit draws closer Colleen calls The Mother Superior to request an extension on a leave of absence and possession of the car. Family the Reverend Mother agrees to realize that Colleen would not be able to fully commit to a life of servitude to God without first coming to grips with some of the inner demons. The extension of her visit places her family during Halloween; her parents take quite seriously. The house is decorated in every member of the family create their costume and ghoulish persona. Joani determined to make sure that her daughter has some fun during the last days trip, it releases the cupcake batter. The dosed treats have the desired effect soon everyone is laughing and having fun. Finally, it's time for Colleen to leave returning to Brooklyn to face the decision that will determine the course of the rest of her life will take.
Following the long-standing tradition of the independent filmmaker, Zach Clark dons a member hats during the production of this movie. As the creditor Bible notices name appearing as director, screenwriter, and producer and editor one crucial job delegated to someone else is that of cinematographer which is assumed by Daryl Pittman. There's been quite a long time since I've been so impressed by any movie as I've had with this exquisite example of an independent film. The critical aspect of making movies unencumbered by the demands and trade-offs associated with studio involvement conveys a freedom to the filmmaker to relate the smaller, personal story faithful to the emotional development of the characters rather than commercial potential. Mr. Clark has an innate understanding necessary to explore the inner workings of a young woman rapidly approaching a precipice on the road that is her life. Mr. Clark has to earn applades for his natural talent which allows him to relate a very sensitive and intimate portrait of a young woman poised to make the most important decision of life. This is a quiet film that superficially floats along at an even pace as Colleen tries her best to conceal the inner turmoil poised overwhelm her. As a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, I found special meaning to the juxtaposition of neighborhoods in areas I have frequented the quiet beauty of North Carolina. To some extent, this seems to represent the dichotomy existing within Colleen's mind. Both locations will provide circumstances where the demands of others will constantly surround her. At least if she embraces her calling, remaining a nun, there is a chance that she might touch the lives of some of those people make a difference. What she has discovered that the journey back home is that despite the façade of change everything remains the same. This is a movie targeted to those who love and can fully appreciate the artistic beauty intrinsically found an independent film. This could be summed up by the title. Colleen is bound to be a little sister in some capacity; either as Jacob's caring younger sister was the diminutive sister and her religious order. It bears noting that several of the women assuming principle undertaking characters that represent a significant departure from the common parts. Addison Timlin frequently plays a much sexualized character, often with a considerable lack of wardrobe such as her recurring role in the premium cable series, 'Californication.' Barbara Crampton has built much of her career as a screen queen in various horror films wall Allie Sheedy was a member of the 'Brat Pack' that dominated many teen movies back in the 80s
Little Sister, a family dramedy written and directed by Zach Clark, smartly turns this tendency on its head. Rather than scaling up to reflect political conditions, Little Sister uses contemporary politics to inform and contextualize it's small-scale family struggles. Little Sister tells the story of young nun Colleen, who is preparing to take her vows when her mother Joani, whom she broke ties with after a suicide attempt, convinces her to come back home when her brother Jacob arrives home from Iraq severely scarred. Where the politics set in is its oddly specific time period, taking place in North Carolina during the debate season of the 2008 Obama/McCain American election. Broadly speaking, Colleen's parents are the hard-left grow-op-supporting type, so the word "change" tends to get thrown around a lot. This conflicts with their childrens' experiences, them being a war veteran and a nun, although the movie never explicitly highlights this (One of my favourite scenes involves Joadi talking to a couple at a party, being caught up on their adoption and general joie de vivre. Assuming an internal family strife, they ask about Joadi's dog instead.) It uses the assumptions we place on these people based on simply their broadest characteristics to show how easy it is for even family to place each other in bubbles, and how hard it is to break those assumptions. It uses that time period to comment on how people assume "change" is the answer, even if they are unable to point to how it will affect them personally. In a fairly devastating fashion, it also uses our familiarity with political hope as an impersonal mirror to how we can put blind faith in large-scale solutions to our personal problems. But the political connection is a shortcut to help us understand the characters, which we can then turn around to understand ourselves, as opposed to a condemnation or celebration of Obama or Bush or Trump.
Even without the political connection, Little Sister would be a warm coming-home drama, with a fantastic central trio in Addison Timlin, Keith Poulson, and Ally Sheedy. It's occasionally hilarious, reasonably stylish, and treats all of its characters with sympathy (except maybe the New Yorkers who create 9/11-themed dance art, but I'll let that one slide). The central relationship between Timlin's Colleen and Poulson's Jacob is particularly heartwarming, and Sheedy gives Joadi enough of a villainous bend to lend some dramatic tension to much of the film while still providing enough humanity to sell her more tender moments. It may have been a touch slight without its more political elements, but it would still be a relatable slice of life.
Very good movie. Subtle. Touching on religion, multiformity, politics, war, originality, depression, esoteric balance. Clever, funny writing, effortless dialogue, casual performances (as per the plot's dictation).
Go in fearless, you will enjoy this one -- and a special shoutout to Ally Sheedy's The Breakfast Club persona, Allison Reynolds, who obviously grew up into a true-to-character-progression Joani Lunsford. Very effective casting and a delight to watch.
Don't be confused, this movie is listed as a comedy, but you won't laugh. It's serious in tone. Sometimes movies will connect with an individual and sometimes they don't. This one fell short in my eyes. I wanted so much to like it more. Final Score 5.7/10.
It manages to bite off just enough that it can chew. Dealing with a disfigured war veteran, recreational drugs, alcohol, religion, celibacy without once being preachy.
The acting is the only thing keeping this movie from being great. Though I did love Addison Timlim as the goth-turned-soon-to-be-nun, the characters always felt just on the brink of being believable.
Definitely recommend a watch, but this is far from "this generation's American Beauty" as some have purported.
The simple quietly unravels into the complex. Disfigured from his tour of duty, Jacob is a recluse, and neither his loving fiance, nor his well-meaning but impotent parents can reach him.
It's easy to see where this story is going, but not so easy to see where Colleen is going. She digs back to her childhood past, which includes a very serious Goth stage, to connect her fractured family, all the while her Mother Superior keeps hounding her to return to the convent.
A seemingly simple little movie, "Little Sister" covers some very big topics: family, addiction, tragedy, love, politics, faith, life and death, without being at all preachy about any of the subjects at play. It's really quite good.