Establishing a setting - a vivid sense of location - is essential for any film to have a shot at creating a memorable connection with an audience. And when your project is blessed with topography the makers of IMAX films would kill for, you're already well ahead of the game. The Swiss Oscar hopeful Sister takes advantage of its breathtaking locale to unveil a raw and emotionally powerful tale of the bleakness of life in the shadows beneath the awe-inspiring Alps.
Swiping equipment from the ne'er-do-wells at the ski resort looming over his circa 1970s concrete apartment tower below, 12-year-old Simon (a terrific Kacey Mottet Klein) supports his lazy-as-all-get-out sister Louise (a strong Lea Seydoux) with his fire sale of stolen skis, goggles, and gloves. While Louise is off cavorting with random men, Simon is making his daily gondola trek up the mountain, mingling with richies like Gillian Anderson, keeping supply high for his booming black market business.
Complications inevitably ensue with Simon's scheme but it's nothing compared to what the kid has to deal with back at his depressing homestead. Director Ursula Meier reveals a whopper of a twist that packs the impact of a piledriver performed on top of a folding table. The move delivers one of the most emotional scenes of 2012; any parent will be straining to contain the tears.
Without entirely spoiling things, let's just say Sister should be required viewing for the cast of Teen Mom. The stark reality of the struggles that lie ahead may be of use for them.
Final Cut Score: 91%
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