A ONCE SUCCESSFUL PLAYWRIGHT SACRIFICES HER LIFE/CAREER
FOR HER DYING BROTHER IN SWITZERLAND’S
OFFICIAL OSCAR® ENTRY FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Reviewed by Me’Chele Sevanesian: I want to talk about this movie forever, and I mean that with every dramatized syllable in the words that make up this sentence. This was a film I wish I could watch over and over again but only if it was my first time seeing it. There is so much to be said about the intricate symbolism weaved throughout foreign cinema. “My Little Sister” Written & Directed by: Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
It follows two siblings Sven(Lars Eidinger) and Lisa(Nina Hoss) who are twins and Lisa is younger by 2 minutes which she says, “is a very big two minutes.” She underwent a procedure to give her brother her bone marrow as he battles aggressive cancer. Her husband, Martin(Jens Albinus), is what I believe would be a headmaster or vice-principal at one of the top ten most prestigious schools in Switzerland. Following her brother’s discharge from the hospital, Lisa brings him to their mother’s house in Berlin.
This is where we can get a foundation as to why both Lisa and Sven have such an affinity for the theatre. Sven has the entirety of “Hamlet” memorized and is a performer, and his sister is an amazing playwright. She stopped writing on June 3rd according to her brother, once he was diagnosed. After realizing her mother simply cannot take care of her brother Lisa brings him back to Switzerland where her family is living. Later in the film find out her husband signed a 5-year contract to stay at the school even though he knows she wishes to return home to Berlin. There are multiple subplots in the story including her past with David(Thomas Ostermeier) the owner of the theatre hall where they perform, the rocky condition of her marriage, her with Sven, and her belief that theatre can save him. What I love most about this film is the interweaving of subplots fitting together in a seamless fashion inviting the audience on its intimate journey. It did not feel like one plot was simply pulling the characters through the film.
Lisa’s character truly attempts to stretch herself as far as she can but her main focus is saving her brother. When she does end up writing a play it is an adult version of Hansel and Gretel focusing on two children who were abandoned much like them. She writes this story so that her brother has something he can live for. We see throughout the film Sven struggles with losing himself as he cannot perform in his plays or simply be the same person he once was. And while this internal issue does not come face to face with Lisa she does what she can in the process to mend it as she notices these changes in him. The end of the film is beautiful as the connecting of art and death come full circle and Lisa can now be herself and her brother is free from the disease. I believe this film does so much justice to the grieving process and all the stress that comes with loving and letting go of a loved one that is both physically and emotionally draining.
What I really enjoyed was that oftentimes in a film when a person is stretching themselves extremely thin you tend to root for them and only them, and when the people in their life react accordingly they act as an antagonist. Here I truly saw Lisa’s faults in how she handled situations because she never spoke up about needing help. Her husband was truly there for her and wanted her brother to do and be well because he was family but she never really let anyone in. It appeared to me that it was like a sibling secret in a way, for twins only something they had been doing their whole lives. I mean this in the sense that Sven’s suffering was limited to them and only them and if you were not there to make it better you aren’t allowed to share in their space of grief.
Everyone and their mother, even their grandmother and cousins twice removed should watch this film and soak it up for its beauty. I truly cannot say anything better. The camera work was quite simple because not much of the film needed unnecessary movements; it was less about the tips and tricks and more about the characters and their development. The setup and design itself were quite simple as it should be for this type of film, and I simply adore every moment. The classical music added such a bittersweet romance throughout the film and enhanced the experience. I can say with certainty I will watch this film again, very soon.
MY LITTLE SISTER (2020)
Written & Directed by: Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond,
Cast: Nina Hoss, Lars Eidinger, Marthe Keller, Jens Albinus, Thomas Ostermeier,
Linne-Lu Lungerhausen, Noah Tscharland
Produced by: Ruth Waldburger
Cinematography: Filip Zumbrunn
Genre: World Cinema/Drama
RT: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Language: German and French with English Subtitles