The Sisters Brothers: LFF Film Review

I missed the press screening of The Sisters Brothers at the Venice Film Festival and I was gutted because it has the most incredible cast – which includes Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal – so I dropped lucky when I managed to snag a ticket to a public LFF screening.

Phoenix and Reilly are Charlie and Eli Sisters, who have been assigned to find a prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm (what a name!) (Ahmed) and torture him to discover the secret to the formula he uses to hunt for gold. Also on Warm’s tail is John Morris (Gyllenhaal), who is initially working with the Sisters brothers before he realises it’s in his best interests to team up with Warm.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about The Sisters Brothers, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. It begins like your standard western cat and mouse type tale but then it becomes way more. I was truly shocked by some of the turns this film takes. It is so unpredictable and for this reason, I was hooked. I didn’t care for it much in the beginning but the second half takes it to another level. It is an extremely dark comedy – with laughs and gross, gruesome scenes in equal measure – and a very entertaining watch. I was properly involved in it – wincing, gasping and laughing. The gold-hunting scene at the river is shocking and an absolute game-changer.

Phoenix and Reilly are a well-matched duo. Charlie is a wild, erratic alcoholic who causes a lot of trouble, while Eli just tags along to protect him. Phoenix doesn’t get opportunities for laughs too often in his movies so this was a nice change and Reilly is as lovely as ever. Gyllenhaal rocked some fantastic facial hair and put on an intriguing old-fashioned accent that occasionally sounded British. It was nice to see Ahmed in such a different role and hold his own among these big Hollywood names.

This has a bit of everything for everyone – action, laughs and shocking bloody bits – and I highly recommend it. Not your average western.

Seen as part of the 2018 BFI London Film Festival. Set for release on 5 April 2019. 

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