A well-acted relationship drama with some gruelling, emotional scenes, My Little Sister is an engrossing tale of resilience, failed dreams and family bonds, a Swiss entry for the Oscars this year. Nina Hoss is Lisa, a playwright who has left the German arts scene to begrudgingly live with her husband, played by Jens Albinus, in Switzerland where he runs a prestigious school. She is also caring for her terminally ill twin brother – Sven, played by Lars Eidinger – who was an incredibly successful actor, due to return to playing Hamlet before his cancer diagnosis.
Hoss is desperately trying to juggle all these moving parts, as well as look after her two children and deal with her grand dame actress mum, played by Marthe Keller. She desperately tries to give her brother hope, insisting he returns to the stage and even attempting to write a play for him after suffering writer’s block, but she is trying to put a plaster over a gaping wound both for him and her relationship with her husband.
Hoss is outstanding and writer/directors Chuat and Raymond capture the horror of cancer and the complex dynamics of family and lovers with skilful economy – in German, French and English to boot, reflecting the diversity of Switzerland well. All the characters are realistically flawed; Hoss’ intense bond with Eidinger stunts other aspects of her life, as she paints herself into a corner of unhappiness, exacerbated by her husband’s ambitious selfishness. Not the most upbeat of watches, but an involving, rewarding glimpse of a family in crisis and the need for artistic endeavour, told with restraint and humanity.
Dir: Stephanie Chuat / Veronique Raymond (15, 96 mins)
In cinemas and on Curzon Home Video from Fri 8 Oct
words KEIRON SELF