The Sisters Brothers (2018)
October 11, 2018 9:28 AM - Subscribe

Based on the acclaimed 2011 novel by Patrick deWitt, the colourfully named gold prospector Hermann Kermit Warm is being pursued across 1,000 miles of 1850s Oregon desert to San Francisco by the notorious assassins Eli and Charlie Sisters. Except Eli is having a personal crisis and beginning to doubt the longevity of his chosen career.
posted by GuyZero (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Like all adaptations of books I liked I'm not sure I liked the movies as much, but I am biased and have a hard time appreciating the film on its own merits as a different work than the novel. But that's my personal bias.

I thought it was a great film and the theme of death and violence runs throughout. In the end (trying to avoid a spoiler) the violence of the Sisters Brothers proves itself irrelevant as in the end death comes for us all regardless.

The performances were very good but I think I was more taken by the west coast scenery of mountains and high plains.
posted by GuyZero at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

I was lured into seeing this after hearing an interview with John C. Reilly, who apparently optioned the novel to get this produced. In that interview, he said that what appealed to him was that it felt like "it's a Western without the toxic masculinity". I don't think that's a completely accurate description, but I can see why he said it. (I dug the spoiler twist at the end, and how it allowed for the following final sequence; that was kind of quiet and lovely.)

Fair warning to those who haven't seen it yet that there are some body-horror elements.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:41 PM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I should have waiting longer after finishing the book before watching the movie. Because of course now I feel like the movie doesn't hold a candle to the book!

Everything about the movie is good -- the acting, the cinematography -- but the book is just a lot funnier? And more immediate somehow. I almost think the movie would have captured the book's tone better if it had been set in the modern day or something. There's something about the tone in the book that's wry and self-aware in a way that's just not there in the movie -- but I think that that's because it's such a hard note to hit with a period piece. It's a miracle that Patrick deWitt hit it in the first place.

The characterizations and plot weren't as interesting on screen, either, but I think that's mostly just because they didn't have the benefit of first-person narration and had to compress a lot. It's practically a shaggy dog story in the end, so it must have been a really difficult adaptation to write!

Anyway, Riz Ahmed was fantastic as Warm. The character is such a grizzled old bum in the book, it was funny to see this clean-cut and bright-eyed young guy playing him here, but I think it actually worked pretty well. Thematically, I think the ages/relationships in the book work better, with Warm/Morris mirroring Charlie/Eli (and Charlie/Eli's relationships with the Commodore mirroring their relationships with their father) in a somewhat different way than in the movie. But honestly, this was John C. Reilly's passion project and he's great to play Eli aside from his age, so what are you going to do? Some of the relationships were going to have to be different just because Reilly is clearly 50ish and they didn't go the route of just having an old cast.

It did crack me up when Morris told Warm that he was 35 y/o and then when Charlie and Eli were looking for him, Charlie asked if the bartender had seen a guy matching Morris's description and "about 40." I loved that little touch about how vain Morris is, lying about his age (apparently).

One place where I wish they'd stayed more faithful to the book was in the epilogue when they go to their mom's house. I really liked that in the book, because it was clear that they each had very different relationships with her, and how/why Eli's loyalties were divided between his mother and Charlie, and it was all sketched out really well. But again, I guess it was bound to be different here, because Eli was the older brother this time around.
posted by rue72 at 9:40 PM on May 1, 2019

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