- Film & TV
- 15 Apr 19
Bleakly funny western boasts fantastic performances.
Adapted from a novel by Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers is directed and co-written by Jacques Audiard – though it’s actually the pet project of John C. Reilly, who pushed to get it made. Producing as well as starring, Reilly puts in one of his uniquely brilliant performances as Eli Sister, elder brother to Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix). The brothers work together as assassins, and despite his profession, Eli is a sensitive, melancholic man. He pays sex workers to speak lovingly to him, and is paranoid that Charlie is more feared than he. He’s probably right – Phoenix’s Charlie is a vicious and impulsive drunk, though his squabbles with Eli are endearingly silly and affectionate.
The first half of the film plays on this dynamic – two heartlessly efficient killers who find time to exchange salty barbs, and become giddily excited at the sight of modern luxuries such as toothbrushes and flushing toilets. The two actors share a delightfully pugnacious chemistry, though their journey trundles through well-trodden set-pieces.
The story picks up when their latest target is revealed: would-be prospector Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed), who has invented a valuable formula. With the help of a genteel detective (Jake Gyllenhaal), the brothers are instructed to torture Hermann until he gives up the formula – but could Hermann be their way out of the killing business?