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L'enfant d'en haut 2012 | 97 min | Not rated | 1.85:1



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Theatrical release date

 09 November, 2012
 26 October, 2012

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Sister Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, November 29, 2012

The easy move would be to compare the drama "Sister" to the 2011 feature, "The Kid with a Bike." Both pictures invest in the thinly-veiled agony of lost youth, following two boys as they deal with parental abandonment in aggressive yet painfully insular ways. While "Bike" was more demonstrative with its fits of pain, "Sister" takes a path of misdirection, conjuring an absorbing tale of thievery on the Swiss slopes while director Ursula Meier works her way into uncomfortable areas of truth and neglect. For the most part a distant film, "Sister" supplies a full behavioral experience that's riveting at times, with lead performances by Lea Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein communicating isolation in bravely vulnerable ways.

Young Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) spends his afternoons rummaging through tourist belongings as unsuspecting visitors enjoy their vacation at a popular Swiss ski resort, stealing whatever he can for future resale. Living in a nearby apartment building, Simon has to fend for himself, with older sister Louise (Lea Seydoux) providing little financial help as she works a menial job and burns through local men. Taking a position of domestic responsibility, Simon's black market enterprise has provided him with pocket money and interest from kitchen staff member Mike (Martin Compston), while time spent with tourist Kristen (Gillian Anderson) offers the lonely boy a brief moment of mothering. As the ski season wears on, Simons increases his routine of larceny to meet demand, also enduring Louise's outward frustration with life and her self-destructive appetites, unable to get in close to the only person he loves.

"Sister" begins with Simon's daily adventure pilfering items from locker rooms and ski racks. We see the child carry out a mission that's familiar to him, watching Simon casually nab expensive equipment while wearing a ski mask, helping to deflect attention from his deeds. Working the lifts, back rooms, and mountains of the resort, Simon's an old pro, even taking a request from a neighbor boy who's looking for a specific brand of skis. Instead of a child engaged in adventuring or harmless mischief, we greet Simon as a professional thief, watching with horror and undeniable curiosity as the character manages his time and energy moving and hiding his enormous haul for later inspection. It's an unnerving opening moment for "Sister," but Meier (2008's "Home") is only just beginning, with stealing a first step in the staircase of dysfunction facing this kid.

Behaviors are of paramount importance to Meier, spending most of "Sister" arranging situations of conflict for the actors to work out on their own. The atmosphere is heavy but initially ambiguous, finding Simon unusually casual when discussing the death of his parents with outsiders, while the divide between the bleakness of his apartment complex and the opulent resort practically across the street acts as a supporting character, creating both a financial and emotional strain that doesn't relent. However, "Sister" isn't a grim feature, just one that's familiar with woe, exploring Louise's developing unease around her brother, while Simon aches for a human connection, finding some light in Kristin's presence, despite their brief encounters. There's also a tentative relationship built between the boy and Mike, observing the kitchen laborer accept Simon's criminal ways, permitting the thief entrance into staff barracks for additional sales. The characters have angles and hesitations, and while Simon isn't a particularly sympathetic child, brief glimpses of his neediness are heartbreaking.

"Sister" is most successful inspecting routine, with Simon's pinching and uncomfortable relationship with Louise explored throughout the picture, giving the actors chewy acts of deception and emotional blockage to express, which they do well. The screenplay has a few surprises in store for the viewer, solid ones too, tilting perception of the central relationship in unique ways. Meier also keeps the atmosphere compelling, capturing the bigness of the resort and its harsh economical separation between laborer and guest. The director invests in a raw, unfiltered mood, which generates fascinating conflict, sustaining the itchiness of "Sister" without overdosing on trauma.

Starring: Léa Seydoux, Gillian Anderson, Martin Compston
Director: Ursula Meier

» See full cast & crew

Sister, Forum Discussions

Last post
Your Sister's Sister 15 Nov 17, 2012
My Sister's Keeper 3 Jun 29, 2009
Mozart's Sister 2 Aug 24, 2011
Brothers & Sisters question. 1 Jan 19, 2012

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