Since making her Sundance debut with HUMPDAY in 2009, writer-director Lynn Shelton’s steady output of work has accumulated into a distinctive brand. Always set in and around Seattle and starring either Mark Duplass (HUMPDAY) or Rosemary Dewitt (TOUCHY FEELY)—or, at her best, both of them (YOUR SISTER’S SISTER)—Shelton’s films are distinguished by their improvisational style and a tone that lies somewhere between laid back and extremely uncomfortable. Her latest film, LAGGIES, marks the first time she’s directed a film whose script she didn’t personally pen. Although the story by Andrea Seigel is more tightly constructed (and much more neatly wrapped up) than Shelton’s own improvised scripts, the story of arrested development in extremis fits neatly into the director’s oeuvre.
Filmmaker Lynn Shelton had a comedy hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with YOUR SISTER’S SISTER, a surprising and compelling exploration of the rivalry between contrasting sisters. There is Iris (Emily Blunt), a flighty professional whose best friend, Jack (Mark Duplass), is still grieving the loss of his brother one-year prior. Iris, who used to date Jack’s brother, invites Jack to her family’s remote cabin in the woods to find himself. Unbeknownst to Iris, her older sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), a lesbian fresh out of a seven-year relationship, is laying low at the cabin, and a rowdy night of tequila drinking between Jack and Hannah kicks off a bizarre stretch of days — made even more hilariously awkward when Emily pops in for an unexpected visit.
YOUR SISTER’S SISTER tells the story of a different kind of love triangle. Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt and director Lynn Shelton (HUMPDAY) stopped by to talk about how the process of collaborative filmmaking differs from your average studio fare. Watch more to learn more:
There were a plethora of highly touted comedies boasting heavy-hitting casts that had buyers—and audiences—salivating prior to the festival, but a little indie shot in just over ten days has emerged as the dark horse candidate for funniest film of Sundance 2012.
YOUR SISTER’S SISTER comes courtesy of “mumblecore” filmmaker Lynn Shelton, whose last film, HUMPDAY, premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival en route to a Special Jury Prize and critical raves for its uproarious portrait of two best friends locked in a no-holds-barred game of macho one-upmanship that leads to them agreeing to shoot a gay porn together.
Two recent articles in the New York Times caught my eye. Michelle Orange’s piece about Lynn Shelton’s film HUMPDAY, “She’s a Director Who’s Just another Dude” and “Action!” Manohla Dargis’s profile of Kathryn Bigelow and her film THE HURT LOCKER. Both articles made much of the fact that these female directors are working with male stories and male actors. Dargis describes how Bigelow “steered clear of the industry ghetto to which female directors are usually consigned, bypassing the dreaded chick flick for stories and archetypes traditionally if reductively seen as the province of men.” Orange quoted one of HUMPDAY’s actors Mark Duplass who described “…her greater affinity for men”: “You know those girls who are closer with dudes, in general? She’s got a little bit of that going on, so that obviously plays into it.”
Is it just me… or does this is all feel a bit grating that at this point in time when a female filmmaker makes a good film, the angle of the story still ends up being about how she’s not a guy?