There are some more irritating mistakes in modern screenwriting than onscreen siblings directly referring to each other as such: “You said it, sister.” “I am here for you, my brother.” Even the best actors can’t sell those terms of address that almost no human being actually uses: Any great movie about a sibling relationship needs to be watched so closely that you don’t need any dialogue clues to trace. family tree.
One of these films is the magnificent melodrama of Brazilian director Karim AÃ¯nouz The invisible life of EurÃdice GusmÃ£o, now streaming on Curzon Home Cinema. Adapted from a popular Martha Batalha novel, it’s a story of brotherly love that has gone through decades of unhappiness and forced separation. Close as children, the sweet daughter EurÃdice (Carol Duarte) and the wild child Guida (Julia Stockler) are separated by a malicious lie from their father, as punishment for Guida’s impulsive and unauthorized marriage.
Ainouz’s film follows their very different lives in parallel through decades, as each yearns for the company of the other: it’s the kind of story that could have been filmed as a frothy ‘photo of a woman’. in the golden age of Hollywood. Ainouz does not hold back the emotion either: it tumbles with humid and sumptuous excesses, performances as expressive grandiose as the failing score and a cinematography painted in oil with tropical hues.
A whole different portrayal of fraternal intimacy, Edgar Wright’s winning documentary The Sparks Brothers (on Amazon / Apple TV from Monday) gently probes the brotherly bond that has kept Ron and Russell Mael together as Sparks for 50 years – and for all their public reserve, it’s obvious affection and intuitive understanding between them which make it more interesting than most making-of-the-band docs.
I’m, admittedly, a sucker for just about any half-decent sibling story: there’s something particularly touching to me about a relationship that you can’t choose, but must hold on for for. most of your life. Kenneth Lonergan’s Wonder You can count on me (Apple TV) accurately and exquisitely identifies the dynamic between a sibling, orphaned in their childhood, whose shared pain keeps their souls bound even as their lives drift apart. It’s as simple and essential as the link in question, and I’m not sure Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo have ever been better. (Ruffalo approached, at least, in the miniseries I know it’s true, on Chili, doubling down on fraternal angst with a mind-blowing double performance as twins connected and separated by mental illness.)
One of the most subtly complex sibling stories of recent years is the perfectly charming Hirokazu Kore-eda. Our little sister (Chile), although in this tale of three adult sisters welcoming their half-sister into the fold after their father’s death, there is a pathetic bittersweet beneath her shimmering, cherry blossom beauty. As a sorority study lovingly defined by patriarchy, it would make a nice double bill with Ang Lee’s tongue-in-cheek and delightful undertone. Eating Drinking Man Woman (Curzon), where family meals take on a dramatic turn.
Sibling relationships tend to be treated more stoically onscreen, though Robert Redford’s shameless sibling tearfulness A river crosses it (BFI Player) is a glittering exception. In the meaty and muscular emotional epic of Luchino Visconti Rocco and his brothers (BFI Player), sibling rivalry plays out in a brutal way. Hard love between brothers is an integral part of Elia Kazan’s life At the water’s edge (Now Cinema) and the ripe, edgy film from the same director of Steinbeck’s Cain and Abel redesign East of Eden (Amazon). What happens between brothers in The Godfather II (YouTube) is difficult, of course, but it would be a stretch to call it love.
Still, it’s positively warm and hazy about the war of blood shared between the decrepit sisters of Tinseltown in What happened to Baby Jane? (Amazon), lent an extra thrill through the (unrequited) bad blood between stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. A 1991 tv remake starring real-life sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave (also on Amazon) has curiosity value, but doesn’t get so ugly. Maybe there was too much love to lose.
Also new in streaming and DVD
No sudden movement
(Sky Cinema / Now TV)
Steven Soderbergh’s sleek, star-studded thriller went straight to streaming last week with such minimal promotion I didn’t notice. It deserves more noise: An ultra-tough 1950s Detroit heist story, it mixes pleasant criminal entanglements with more forceful observations of racial conflict in mid-century America, assembled with the signature snap. by Soderbergh.
(Amazon / Apple TV)
You have to hand it over to M Night Shyamalan: No matter how many critical hits he gets for his wacky, high-end blockbusters, he happily continues, fully engaged in his ridiculous ideas. This one is particularly silly – in one line, tourists arrive at a time range that ages you years to hours – but executed with enough cheeky panache to make it captivating.
(Amazon / Apple TV)
Considering Michael Caine’s notoriously lax standards for script selection, you’d be forgiven for approaching any live-streaming movie of him with caution. But this sweet, wintery literary comedy is surprisingly sweet, backed up by an easy chemistry between Caine, as a grizzled, tight-fitting writer making a late comeback, and Aubrey Plaza as an infuriated editor.
Riders of Justice
Entrusted to the care of his teenage daughter after his wife died in a train crash, a deployed soldier suspects foul play and seeks revenge. What sounds like the premise of another Liam Neeson potboiler takes an unexpected black comic book twist in this Danish quirk, with Mads Mikkelsen on a typically formidable form in mind.