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Shelton scores with another film about (shock!) young people having sex

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"Your Sister’s Sister"


***(three stars)

If you smiled wide during the clumsy charm of Lynn Shelton’s 2009 breakthrough film "Humpday," you’ll eat this up straight.

Except for a headlong dive into earnestness near the end that threatens to unhinge the fast-spun humor that propels it forward, "Your Sister’s Sister" is a welcome exercise in small ensemble acting that lets its wonderful sense of humor breathe through every corner.

The plot doesn’t translate well, smacking deceptively of a "Three’s Company" episode. Jack (Mark Duplass) is the archetypal young adult groping for purpose in life in the wake of his brother’s death. To get away from it all, he takes up the offer of his brother’s old girlfriend Iris (Emily Blunt) to retreat to her father’s cabin among the San Juan islands. The waiting surprise is that Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) has already ensconced herself there to nurse a break-up following a seven-year relationship. The plot thickens apace into awkward drama when Iris joins them.

Blunt lends the affair valuable star-power, but it’s Duplass’ turn-on-a-dime savvy of smouldering, sly humor that carries it all through, just as he did in "Humpday." Only the vegan-lesbian stereotype of DeWitt’s character grates on occasion, but all three get on like a house on fire. Even when the story-line reverts to extended shots to chop through some turbulence in the story, the surprise ending should win every heart in the room.

Shot on a minimal budget in a schedule of only 12 days, Shelton’s warm little gem of a film is proof that magic can be spun off mere shoestrings.

—Ben Fulton

"Your Sister’s Sister" screens again:

• Saturday, Jan. 21, 9:30 p.m., Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden

• Monday, Jan. 23, 9 p.m., Salt Lake City Library

• Tuesday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m., Redstone Cinema 7, Park City, special screening for Park City locals, others waitlist

• Saturday, Jan. 28, 8:30 p.m., Prospector Square Theatre, Park City

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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