Friday, October 23, 2020

AFI Fest Spotlight: My Little Sister

I’m delighted to be covering a number of selections from AFI Fest 2020. The festival runs October 15th-22nd, 2020, and films are available to watch online during that time.

My Little Sister
Directed by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond
Festival Information

There is a bond that exists between some siblings that is just as strong as the love between parents and children or even romantic partners. That’s strengthened when the siblings are twins, born at or around the same moment and sharing in many common experiences throughout their lives. What a relationship looks like changes over the course of their lives, which may be close or grow distant, and will almost certainly not end at the same time. Others may try to comment on what their connection feels like, but it’s likely something that cannot be understood except by those who genuinely experience it.

Lisa (Nina Hoss) is a former playwright who lives with her husband Martin (Jens Albinus) and their two children in Switzerland, where Martin teaches at an international school. Lisa’s twin brother Sven (Jens Albinus) is an actor in Berlin who requires considerable care when he is diagnosed with leukemia. Their mother Kathy (Marthe Keller) has no interest in seeing her son appear weak, while Lisa expresses an altogether different attitude, one of complete support that often stands in the face of reality. Both Sven and Lisa fully believe that Sven will return to the stage, and his strength in the face of illness may ultimately be what motivates Lisa to write again.

This film doesn’t waste time in introducing its protagonists, with Sven returning from the hospital to the rehearsal space to deliver his lines to stunned costars who ask immediately about his condition. His energy level is indicative of fatigue brought on my medication and his body weakening, but there is a spirit within him that lives for the theater. The wigs he wears in particular express personality, and though he knows that he will likely succumb to his sickness, he does not want to go out with a whimper. Lisa, who was born just moments after him, sees it as her responsibility to take care of him in the same way that, as children, he looked after her as her big brother.

Hoss has appeared in a number of international productions including the film “A Most Wanted Man” and the television series “Homeland.” Her performance here is simultaneously strong and vulnerable, representative of a dedication to her brother that makes her blind to the other demands of her life, including her husband who has his own aspirations and doesn’t want to base everything on Sven. Both Eidinger and Albinus contribute with their portrayals of the men in Lisa’s life, but ultimately, as this film’s title suggests, this is the story of a caregiver deeply attached to the patient she is caring for, who she sees in many ways as an extension of herself.

B+

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