Much like the characters themselves pretending to be genuine people concerned with real problems, 'Sisters & Brothers' is all over the place, walking blindly in search of a plot but managing only to bump into a few interesting ideas which are quickly set aside in favor of continuing its blind journey. The film has a set goal in mind, a destination it wishes to reach, but it's a terribly bumpy and awkward ride with various pit-stops, as if having a map for guidance or asking for directions is too much of a bother. "Just get in, fasten your seatbelt, and hope for the best" seems to be the motto here. Since the writing seems to have been handled by a collective, instead of holding one person responsible for this inflated mess, we'll simply blame everyone for the dull and prosaic dreck on screen.
As the title would have us believe, the story explores the challenges in the relationship of siblings, focusing on the strain of staying in contact when life intervenes to pull them apart. It's an admirable attempt, to be sure, full of potential and drama, but sadly squandered on some unlikable and unsympathetic people. There's the selfish, egotistical movie star Justin (Cory Monteith) and his philanthropist older brother Rory (Dustin Milligan). The two get along fairly well until they have several drinks and their past comes out of nowhere, which leads to a yelling match. Nikki (Amanda Crew) is an aspiring actress burdened with caring for her jobless sister Maggie (Camille Sullivan). All hell breaks loose when Nikki follows loudmouth stranger Henry (Tom Scholte) to Hollywood for her big break.
Of the four families, the last two are probably of the most interest, but somehow the film never allows them the same weight and gravity as the other, more annoying two. Louise (Gabrielle Miller doing her very best and lighting up the screen) is the younger sister to Jerry (Benjamin Ratner), a paranoid schizophrenic who was once the headliner of a popular band. It's a bit heartbreaking seeing her struggle caring for an older, unappreciative brother who can't control what he says or does. The last family has as much to do with mothers and daughters as it does with Sara (Kacey Rohl) discovering she has a long-lost sister in Sita (Leena Manro). Gabrielle Rose plays their mother Marion, and she's gives the best, tear-jerking performance of the whole production coming to terms with her past.
Again, the potential for greatness, for something emotionally powerful and worthwhile, is definitely there, but the plot — whatever that may be since it's never entirely clear — seems incapable of actually achieving it. Filmed as if it were a faux-documentary that follows a set of four brothers and sisters reuniting after some time, the filmmakers go overboard with the visuals, injecting live action with animated graphics and comic-book style editing. The film is billed as a comedy, but there's nothing funny about the disaster we're made to witness on screen. Too much about what the characters discuss seems deadly serious and somber. And then a couple conversations are downright sad and pathetic, especially those scenes involving the ridiculously obnoxious brat Sara.
'Sisters & Brothers' is supposed to be the concluding chapter in a trilogy about family relations produced and directed by Canadian filmmaker Carl Bessai. Not having seen the two preceding this one or knowing how they were filmed, this movie is annoyingly episodic, changing emotional gears as often as it does conversations. It largely feels like a pilot for a possible TV series, a really crummy and frustratingly tedious show that would have been canceled immediately following its first night on the air. To be perfectly honest, it's bloated, self-important writing, satisfied with the delusion of thinking itself clever and insightful when in fact, the story fails miserably to reveal anything remotely close an astute examination of sibling relationships.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Anchor Bay Entertainment brings 'Sisters & Brothers' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 disc housed inside a blue, eco-cutout case. After a couple skippable trailers, viewers are taken to the standard menu window with full-motion clips and whimsical music playing in the background.
Looking every bit like high-def video, 'Sisters & Brothers' debuts to Blu-ray with a mostly clean and consistent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. The very sterile, digital and all around bland presentation displays excellent, sharp detailing in various objects. From the stitching of clothing to the smallest piece of furniture in the background, the picture is very well-defined throughout. The bokeh-like photography is attractive, providing an impressive amount of three-dimensional depth, and colors are richly-rendered. However, the transfer also comes with a series of other drawbacks, most notable of which is the minor banding, some mild posterization and apparent aliasing around the edges of a few buildings. The 1.78:1 image shows a subdued contrast, which is likely intentional and giving the picture a grayish, downcast overtone, but this effects brightness levels with lots of crush and poor shadow delineation. The video is for the most part passable, but ultimately unattractive.
Things improve dramatically in the audio department with an enjoyable DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that utilizes the surrounds to amusing effect. Sounds of the city are discretely heard, such as the light chatter of people and the busy street traffic, with flawless panning across the room. The realism of the activity is admittedly subtle but impressively realistic, generating a satisfyingly immersive soundfield. The majority of the design is geared towards the front where the soundstage delivers excellent, precise vocalization and terrific, fluid channel separation. The original music of Dan Moxon is decidedly the most memorable and remarkable, exhibiting detailed clarity between the mids and highs. Bass is mild but accurate and responsive enough to give the track weight and presence. Full of warmth and room-penetrating acoustics, the lossless mix is definitely the best part of the whole package.
This is a bare-bones release.
Bloated and self-important, 'Sisters & Brothers' imagines itself as an insightful examination of sibling relationships, but the best the micro-budgeted film accomplishes is a series of interesting performances. Largely episodic and somewhat annoyingly sporadic, this supposed comedy lacks humor or any sense of genuine human emotion, draining the spirit of an audience foolish enough to watch until the predictably contrived conclusion. The Blu-ray arrives with an average and a bit troubled picture quality but an audio presentation that surprises. Overall, the bare-bones release has little worth recommending and is easy to skip.