Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sisters

Sisters; thriller, USA, 1973; D: Brian De Palma, S: Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, William Finley, Lisle Wilson, Charles Durning

New York. Actress and model Danielle Breton goes on a date with her TV co-star Philip, where they are bothered by her ex-husband Emil. Danielle brings Philip to her apartment and they sleep over. The next morning, Danielle is not able to take her pill, goes crazy and stabs Philip to death. Her neighbor, reporter Grace, spots the murder through her window, but the police are not able to find the body since Emil helped to hide it in the couch. Grace finds out that Danielle had a Siamese twin, Dominique, who died after they were separated in a surgery and that Emil is actually her doctor in an asylum.

After several comedies, director Brian De Palma crafted his first thriller homage to Hitchcock, the uneven "Sisters" which are, despite his stylistic touches, a bumpy ride. Traversing from "Psycho" through "Rear Window" (a similar scene where Stewart's character there is petrified when he spots the alleged killer neighbor on one window entering his apartment while his friend is still searching for clues on the second window can be found here) up to "Spellbound" when the story lands in a mental asylum, De Palma creates a disjointed storyline where large chunks of it do not manage to connect into a harmonious whole: for instance, the first plot twist, some 40 minutes into the film, tries to lean on "Psycho", but the knife stabbing seems only trashy, especially since the score is awfully trippy. The only thing that saves it at that moment is De Palma's trademark split screen use, showing simultaneously on one side of the screen the apartment from the victims point of view and on the other side of the screen the neighbor's perspective observing the window. Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt and especially the excellent Charles Durning deliver all fine performances, but similarly like De Palma's later Hitchcockian thrillers, like "Body Double", the director inserts too many bad ideas which all contribute to a distorted analogy of a suspenseful story.

Grade:++

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