The Sisters Brothers

WESTERN; 2hr 2min

STARRING: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed

Sisters act: Phoenix (left) and Reilly

Brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters (Reilly and Phoenix) are gun-slinging ruffians for hire who pontificate and squabble like tetchy maiden aunts in French director Jacques Audiard’s frolicky tilt at the American Wild West. Oregon in 1851 being as rough as guts and crazy for gold, the Sisters have been recruited by Rutger Hauer’s The Commodore to pursue a light-fingered prospector (Ahmed as Hermann Kermit Warm) across country to San Francisco with the ignoble aim of doing him in.


Their journey is something of a gross ordeal, what with Charlie’s constant boozing and Eli’s stomach-churning, spider-induced affliction. Meanwhile, prospector Hermann, no slouch at the covering of his slippery rear end, has palled up with scholarly detective—and “pretentious fucking asshole,” as Charlie would have it—John Morris (Gyllenhaal). The two hold an infuriating lead over Eli and Charlie for a while in what is essentially a horsey equivalent of a road movie. When the four men eventually do connect, they’re in for some mighty high and hard times. What’s a reconstructed western without them?


Audiard and Thomas Bidegain’s screenplay of Curtis De Witt’s 2011 novel is as playful as Butch and Sundance at their irreverent best: filming in English for the first time, the director (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) soaks his wild and woolly adventures in raw-boned authenticity. The ensemble cast delivers left-field male bonding with an outlaw’s mellow ease. But it’s their closing moments of resolution that truly give the brothers their due.