Adapted from the Patrick DeWitt’s novel, The Sisters Brothers revolves around the colourfully named gold prospector Hermann Kermit Warm, who’s being pursued across 1000 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, highlighting a more personal approach to the classic Western story.
Directed by Jacques Audiard, known most for the acclaimed The Beat That My Heart Skipped, The Sisters Brothers boasts stunning performances from both John C. Reilly as Eli and Joaquin Phoenix as the more formidable and outspoken Charlie. There was a warmth and humour to this film, which came mostly from the character Eli, but also the camaraderie between the brothers and bond developed between Hermann, performed by Riz Ahmed, and the respectable but devious John Morris, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal.
With a reputation that runs fierce throughout 1850s Oregon, The Sisters Brothers are renowned for their ruthless brutality and gunmanship, but it is clear from the offset that Eli and Charlie are very different characters, brought about by circumstance and upbringing, as Eli states it was the killing of his father that has affected Charlie and certainly encouraged his violent altercation.
John C. Reilly is classically typecast for his morality and warmth in Eli Sisters, whereas Joaquin Phoenix is the enigmatic, frenetic, and unpredictable of the brothers, keen to continue making money in this
clichéd manner, for a Western. The moments that are more interesting to watch are those after they catch up with the chemist that they are on the hunt for, alongside the fickle John Morris. The excitement, which very quickly turns to turmoil, after they find gold using Hermann’s formula, offers a pivotal moment in the film, Charlie’s cold façade breaking somewhat, before his greed combined with ignorance gets the better of him. The music and grade, along with editing and cinematography shouts Western but it is in the story and humour, as well as character that the film becomes interesting. Worth a watch.
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