The Sisters

Rated R 113 minutes 2006

With enough pretension to best a class of freshman Ivy-Leaguers, Arthur Allan Seidelman's film attempts to take on a family's grave dysfunction by corralling 10 characters in a faculty lounge and setting them at each other. But rather than dramatizing the conflict and allowing us to gradually gain sight of the internal wounds at play, The Sisters lays the issues bare. The characters don't interact; they psychoanalyze, and the result is thesis, not theater. Anchoring the film in its unrelenting tone of bile is Marcia (Maria Bello), a grossly inappropriate loon who, in the opening scene, dresses down her brother's declasse fiancee (Elizabeth Banks) with enough cruelty to destroy whatever suspension of disbelief we might have had time to muster. The fiancee returns in kind, then Marcia's husband shows up for a bout of his own. With two professor-friends of the family (Eric McCormack and Chris O'Donnell) bickering over a game of chess, the self-referential jousting is essentially nonstop. There's only one destination for a film so catastrophically overwrought: the Academy Awards.

Film Credits

Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman

Writer: Richard Alfieri and Anton Chekhov

Producer: Judd Payne and Matthew Rhodes

Cast: Maria Bello, Eric McCormack, Erika Christensen, Robert Merrill, Chris O'Donnell, Mary Stuart Masterson, Tony Goldwyn, Steven Culp, Alessandro Nivola and Elizabeth Banks

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