The physical distance between the blue-collar apartment block at the mountain base and the blockbuster luxury skiing resort up above accessible only by cable cars – in Ursula Meier’s edgy, incisive Swiss drama Sister – may’ve been a few kilometers, but the real disparity was far more humongous. Meier admires the Dardennes, and hence if this tale of an alienated working-class orphan forced to hustle in order to fend for himself – and filled with grungy, muted realism stripped of sentimentality – evoked a number of the veteran Belgian duo’s works, one wouldn’t be too far off the mark; however, that an Alpine resort – with its fairy tale allure for tourists – formed the strikingly atypical backdrop, ensured that this was neither derivative nor unoriginal. 12-year old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein), a wiry, inexpressive, jittery pint-sized dynamite, lives with his older sister Louise (Léa Seydoux) at the said apartment block which looks like a granite sphinx erected in the middle of nowhere. Louise is impetuous, reckless and self-destructive; she disappears for days with random guys, is lusted after by the neighbourhood kids, and earns peanuts as a part-time cleaning woman. As a result Simon must earn in order to purchase basic necessities for both – and, not to mention, also because he hankers for her love and attention, the reason for which came off like a stunner later in the narrative – which he does by stealing expensive skiing equipment from wealthy tourists, and selling them to those who can’t afford them otherwise. Klein was like a live wire on a lighted fuse, and hence in the rare moments when his vulnerability got exposed, delicately laced the film’s gritty exterior with both pain and empathy.
Director: Ursula Meier
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama