Your Sister’s Sister

A comedy about doing the right thing with the wrong person.

Emily as: Iris
Genre(s): Comedy | Drama
Written by: Lynn Shelton
Directed by: Lynn Shelton
Other Cast: Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mike Birbiglia
Release Date: June 15, 2012 (Limited)
Production Budget: $120k
Total Worldwide Gross: $3.5m
Filming Locations: San Juan Islands, Washington, USA

Following the success of her Sundance award-winning film Humpday, Lynn Shelton weaves another compellingly human story in Your Sister’s Sister. Lost in an emotional funk one year after his brother’s death, Jack (Mark Duplass) takes his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) up on her offer for a reflective week of solitude at her family’s remote island retreat. Upon arriving at the house, Jack discovers that Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) had the same idea, and the two spend an awkward evening together. Iris shows up the next morning unannounced, setting in motion an emotionally twisted tale of sisters, brothers, and best friends. Shelton once again honestly explores the complexities of interpersonal relationships while gently poking fun at her characters’ predicaments.

Production Info

  • The film was shot over 12 days in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. Up to 35 scenes were shot each day.
  • When the film was originally scheduled to start filming in mid-October 2010, Rachel Weisz was originally set to play the role of Hannah, meaning the actress could complete her part and start filming The Deep Blue Sea in November. However, filming of Lynn Shelton’s movie was postponed, meaning Weisz had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts. Rosemarie DeWitt replaced her just days prior to shooting.
  • Character Quotes

  • You’re a mess. I’ve been watching you for a year now, and whatever you’re doing, and whatever you think is helping you, I have a responsibility as your friend to tell you that it’s not.
  • You know that nice red bicycle that you have? What you’re gonna do, you’re gonna dust off Old Red, you’re gonna wheel him out of the shed, and you’re gonna get on a ferry. I’m sending you to my dad’s place. You know my dad’s place, on the island? It’s beautiful in the winter. It’s idyllic and crisp and peaceful.
  • I don’t like dating. You know that. I don’t like dating. I don’t like the romance and the… I don’t like it. I get bored, I don’t like it.
  • You have terrible taste in clothes. Those denim shorts are a horror show. The fact that you’ve somehow managed to get the inner seam higher than the outer seam is so creepy. I never want to see those things again.
  • He made this, like, really drunken pass at me once. And it was right after I broke up with Tom. And it was really embarrassing, but… he was so upset the next day, you know. Mortified. And… And I was kind of happy that it happened.
  • You just put your foot in my face, you son of a bitch.
  • I’m happy you’ve left her. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. I’ve kind of missed seeing your face like this. It’s the first time I’ve seen you look really happy in a long time.
  • You can do anything you want now. That’s the thing, it’s really exciting. You can go traveling now. You’re not stuck in the Redwoods. You can go to India. You can find yourself, like Lenora. You can do whatever you want. You can have a baby now.
  • You can go online. There’s sperm donors. There’s sperm in the air. You just grab a dude and preg yourself up.
  • You fucked my sister. You fucked my sister! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! You were here for one night! She’s a fucking lesbian!
  • I really think your face is going to annoy me right now. I don’t want to talk to you.
  • Iris: How’d that go for you? When you wrote it, how did you see that actually playing out for you?
    Jack: I will say this. Some parties are forgettable. You know what I mean? But I gotta say, this party…
    Iris: Had great guacamole and amazing public speaking.
    Jack: Great public speaking. They’ll remember it.
    Iris: You gotta stop. You know that, right?
    Jack: Oh, this is… this is that moment.
    Iris: This is your intervention.
    Jack: Isn’t it? This is… This is hard Iris.
    Iris: I miss you. I miss my friend. I know you’re sad. I’m sad, too.
  • Jack: What are you doing here?
    Iris: I got off work. I just was, like, they moved a shoot and then axed another one, so I was, like, peace out. I’m gonna go and annoy me friend.
  • Hannah: I’m just gonna eat another vat of mashed potatoes.
    Iris: How are you liking those mashed potatoes?
    Hannah: They’re outrageous.
    Iris: Yeah? They taste good?
    Hannah: Mmm-hmm.
    Iris: How vegan do they taste to you? [Hannah empties her mouth] Come on! I put a dollop of butter in. That was it. Don’t rinse out. Come on. You’ve been ploughing through those things. Do you know why they tasted good? ‘Cause they have dairy in them. That’s why.
  • Iris: Sorry about the potato. I hate that bush story.
    Hannah: I’m sorry about that.
    Iris: I, like, hate it so much. It’s so embarrassing.
    Hannah: That’s a good story.
    Iris: Yeah, for you.
  • Hannah: So, do you like him?
    Iris: Yeah, he’s my friend.
    Hannah: No, I mean, do you “like him” like him?
    Iris: Yeah. I think I’m in love with him.
    Hannah: Wow.
    Iris: Yeah. Do you think that’s weird?
  • Iris: Fuck Pam.
    Hannah: Fuck her.
    Iris: Fuck Pam.
    Hannah: Fuck Pam.
    Jack: Fuck Pam.
    Iris: Fuck Pam. Or don’t fuck Pam. Fuck someone else now.
  • Quoting: Emily Blunt

    On improvising scenes: We totally improvised, it had a freewheeling organic sense to it. A great deal of responsibility was put on the actors to come up with the good, the exciting, throw-a-bunch-of-stuff-against-the-wall and see what sticks.

    On the atmosphere on set: It had a very loose, free-flowing, collaborative atmosphere to it, and there was a lot of laughter. We were under the gun a little bit because of the time frame. I think we had only about ten days to shoot the entire movie.

    On the cast and crew’s camaraderie: There was an epic night where we watched the original Conan the Barbarian. It was in the boy crew’s house. The room looked like some kind of opium den. They put cushions everywhere in the boys’ cabin and everyone was lying around watching Conan and kind of mocking it, which was unfair. I think Mark was in there with them. He was in the little girl’s bedroom and Rose and I had this opulent, amazing cabin all to ourselves. We were rattling around in there like ants.

    On sibling rivalries: I have three siblings, and I have an older sister who’s a year and a half older than me, so I think the competitive flair came from her, although now we’re best buds. Growing up, she was always the most brilliant intellectual. She always excelled at things like math and science. What she’d say was, “Well what I didn’t like was I wanted to be good at art and be able to do gymnastics like you.” So I guess you’re never happy—you want that little sliver of your sibling. But I think that wears off with age.

    On working with Lynn Shelton: I had seen Humpday and my agent called me and said Lynn Shelton wants to give you a call and I was so excited to speak to her. I could see in Humpday how incredibly fresh and spontaneous it felt and how true to life it was. I felt so connected to what was happening. And I had been crying out to work like that for a while.

    On working with Rosemarie DeWitt: I felt I had a really nice chemistry with her and it was easy sharing the same bed and talking into the night, which is exactly the kind of thing I used to do with my sisters.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director Lynn Shelton: That was the most amazing thing of all this, how Rose [Rosemarie DeWitt] and Emily had instant chemistry. They are the kinds of human beings—and actors—that are extremely accessible and open, and [they] were both so willing that I feel like that really saved the whole project. If either of them were closed off, it would have never worked. It also helped that the whole cast and crew were sleeping on this little compound of three houses. Emily and Rose had their own house, so they could come hang out with us in the lodge where everyone was. And they ate with us, but they could also get away and just spend quality alone time together, and that ended up being essential. This is where Rose was able to bring her input into the character and into the story. It was a great lesson for me, because I learned you can not only recast one of the parts, but shoot out of order.

    Director Lynn Shelton: Emily popped into my head really early on. I had been obsessed with her after I’d seen Sunshine Cleaning. When I IMDb’d her and saw that she was the same woman in The Devil Wears Prada, I freaked out because I had not recognized her. That kind of range blew me away. She was my top choice for that role and it turned out that her agent was a big fan of Humpday. He pitched it to her, which was really wonderful because we were a small movie. When I got on the phone and described to her the process, she said, “My favorite film that I ever made was this little gem of a movie [My Summer of Love] that was improvised, and I never thought that I would work that way again.” She had just done some bigger movies and I think she just really did it for the experience of it. I couldn’t believe my luck — it was a very easy yes.

    Co-star Mark Duplass: Emily and Rose [Rosemarie DeWitt] are unreal. You’ll see in the film that they can handle the naturalism of improvisation, but simultaneously maintain what I like to call, subtly, their “movie star stuff.” For example, they can casually throw away an improvised line with the best of them, but also be aware of where the lights and the camera are, and cock their head in just the perfect angle so the light hits their eyes when zing you with the climactic moment of the scene. It was honestly a huge learning experience for me. I felt outclassed in a lot of ways.

    Critical Response

    Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Each an actor of distinctive delicacy, Duplass, DeWitt, and Blunt do some of their subtlest, most sweetly calibrated work ever, playing off one another with the kind of ease and trust that is, in itself, a demonstration of love.

    Eric Kohn, Indiewire: The excessive chatter flows nicely thanks to fine-tuned performances and the chemistry to sustain them. Duplass’ feisty energy is matched by DeWitt’s constant smarminess, while Blunt’s shy, fragile behavior balances off the forceful personalities surrounding her.

    Matt Mueller, The Guardian: The three actors are flawless, Duplass typically comical and chatty, Blunt warm and interesting.

    Justin Chang, Variety: The three leads are pitch-perfect here, loose and low-key yet fully in character. Duplass is on firm footing as a fun, talkative dude who goes amusingly into panic mode, while Blunt endears as the bubbly, optimistic gal with a knack for bringing people together.

    Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: As for Blunt and DeWitt, let’s start at “dynamite.” These two play sisters as if they’ve lived together for years. Blunt radiates warmth and humor, and DeWitt shows the sharp edges Hannah keeps hidden.

    Awards and Nominations

    Below is a list of all accolades Emily has received for her role in the film.

    NOMINATED: London Critics Circle Film Awards – British Actress of the Year (also for Looper)

    WON: Gotham Independent Film Awards – Best Ensemble Performance