Uncle Todd’s Movie Review: The Sisters Brothers

I think IMDb has blocked me because of my reaction to them pulling down my review of Holmes & Watson but I submitted a very professional and thoughtful 7-star review of The Sisters Brothers today and it hasn’t shown up on their site yet.  We’ll see what happens.

Let me begin with letting you know that I enjoyed The Sisters Brothers.  I purchased it from Amazon last night for $14.99 because I was eager to give John C. Reilly redemption after declaring that Holmes & Watson was an abortion.  I stuck gold with this movie because John C. Reilly was superb.  The movie also stars Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed from Venom and Four Lions.

It’s 1851, and Charlie and Eli Sisters, played by Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly, are both brothers and assassins that basically rub out people that cross a rich dude known as “The Commodore”.  The Sisters brothers find themselves on a journey through the Northwest during the Gold Rush to find a chemist, played by Riz Ahmed, that has invented a chemical that makes it easier to find gold.    They’re assisted by a lead agent, played by Jake Gyllenhaal who is hired to find the chemist and then bring in the Sisters Brothers so they can get the recipe out of him through torture and then put a bullet in his brain.

This movie is not for everyone.  I enjoyed it but I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoyed sitting and listening to my grandpa tell old stories about his childhood and the war.  His stories weren’t flashy, no extra color was added to jazz things up but I got a real life account from a period in time I wasn’t alive to see.  

Pat McAfee and Bert Kreischer are 2 of the best story-tellers in the business and they’re each way better at telling stories than my grandpa was.  If either of them tell my grandpa’s stories, most people are going to enjoy their versions more.  However, there will be some people that enjoy my grandpa’s version more because of it’s authenticity.  He was there and the little details he provides don’t necessarily add entertainment value to the masses but they do let the listener feel as he felt and see what he saw when these events actually happened.  That’s an experience that some people want from a period piece.  If you’re one of those people, you’ll enjoy this movie.

That’s how I describe my experience with this movie.  If Quentin Tarantino and Clint Eastwood could’ve helped with a rewrite of this movie it would be a fucking blockbuster.  However, it would definitely lose its charm  for the niche market it was written for.  One example of authenticity in this movie is when scenes were shot outside at night, it was pitch fucking black.  Most westerns add light so we can see what’s going on.  That makes things easier but for me personally, watching a shootout in pitch black darkness and all I can see are muzzle flashes while I hear people screaming in chaos…added something special.  I can’t remember ever seeing that approach in a movie before but I think that’s how it would really go down.  There was no electricity!  How crazy would that be?!  Granted, I didn’t get to see blood packets explode, guys flying through the air and all that good stuff but I did get to feel how confusing and eery it was to have a gunfight at night in 1851.  That worked for me.

The reason I gave this movie 7 stars is because I personally wanted a little more action and violence.  When I sit down to watch a western about two brothers that are assassins I want a fair amount of violence.  I love westerns that are loaded with action and violence, like Django Unchained and Tombstone, but if there is a great story to tell and that is the focus, I don’t mind cutting back on the shootout scenes.  That being said, I do have a minimum threshold.  I thought The Unforgiven had just the right amount of action and violence without interfering with the story that needed told.  I wanted more in this movie.  I also thought there were three good moments in this film where they could’ve written in a big laugh and that would’ve added a little more versatility to the film.  The Sisters Brothers is definitely a drama so don’t let the fact that it stars John C. Reilly fool you.

Overall, this was a great movie featuring great performances from the entire cast.  I don’t feel comfortable telling you to go see it in a movie theater or to buy it on Amazon for $14.99 like I did.  But when it comes out on Netflix or HBO, give it a watch.

Follow @toddmccomas