It’s October, 2008. Young nun Colleen (Addison Timlin) is avoiding all contact from her family, until an email from her mother announces, “Your brother is home.” On returning to her childhood home in Asheville, NC, she finds her old room exactly how she left it: painted black and covered in goth/metal posters. Her parents (Ally Sheedy and Peter Hedges) are happy enough to see her, but unease and awkwardness abounds. Her brother (Keith Poulson) is living as a recluse in the guesthouse since returning home from the Iraq war. During Colleen’s visit, tensions rise and fall with a little help from Halloween, pot cupcakes, and GWAR. Little Sister is a sad comedy about family – a schmaltz-free, pathos-drenched, feel good movie for the little goth girl inside us all. (synopsis via Coming Soon)
Going home to your family, particularly when your life has diverged significantly from what it was when you were with them, is one of those times when the much-quoted axiom that you can never go back makes a whole lot of sense.
Things can never be the same and in all honesty they rarely are, with the same production that has been staged for years still playing to a packed dysfunctional house and the same roles still being acted out.
And naturally you resume your role almost unconsciously.
But the reality is that you can’t avoid going home, which for most of us isn’t a problem but which comes with a weird sense of paradox where we have changed but the dynamic has not.
Fertile ground indeed for an engrossing indie drama and, according to Variety, one that filmmaker Zach Clark uses to impressive effect:
“As sweetly funky and improbably pure-hearted as its young heroine, a trainee nun and erstwhile Goth making peace with her troubled North Carolina family, Clark’s fifth feature is marked by his characteristic brand of distorted realism, though a classically redemptive arc — with even a hint of spiked sentimentality — sounds a new note in his oeuvre. A shade less emotionally daring than the career high of 2013’s White Reindeer, this not-so-twisted Sister could nonetheless prove the helmer’s most audience-friendly work to date — with an added draw for Brat Packers curious to see a potent Ally Sheedy in problem-parent mode.”
Little Sister opened in limited release USA on 14 October.
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