75th Venice Film Festival The Sisters Brothers Movie Review
(L-R): John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix star in director Jacques Audiard’s Western, ‘The Sisters Brothers.’

Title: The Sisters Brothers

Director: Jacques Audiard

Cast: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Pheonix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rebecca Root, Allison Tolman, Rutger Hauer, Carole Kane.

Jacques Audiard confronts the Western genre with humor, rhythm, an engaging music score by Alexandre Desplat and an A-List cast that works wonders, which includes John C. Reilly, Joaquin Pheonix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rebecca Root, Allison Tolman, Rutger Hauer, Carole Kane.

‘The Sisters Brothers’ is a story about hitmen Charlie (Joaquin Pheonix) and Eli (John C. Reilly) Sisters, who live in a wild and inimical environment. They have no scruples about killing. They are hired by the Commodore to find and murder Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed), and thus their hunt begins from Oregon to California. The brothers are to meet the Commodore’s scout, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), who will point out Warm, but when meeting Warm he will decide to spare him. Ultimately The Sisters siblings find Warm, who has developed a chemical formula that reveals the location of gold hidden in riverbeds, and decide to join his prospecting operation rather than murder him. But Charlie’s hothead will cause pandemonium and fortune will not favor all characters.

The film is inspired by the eponymous historical novel by Canadian-born author Patrick deWitt, that was fondly read by John C. Reilly and his wife Alison Dickey, who contacted Jacques Audiard to convince him to direct an adaptation.

The darkly comic, Western-inspired story turns out to be an initiatory journey that will test the insane bond between the two brothers and possibly lead them to humanity. Audiard himself considers the Western genre irrelevant to the themes that the story conveys, as he explained “This is a pre-Freud, pre-analytical Western. Two brothers talk and talk and end up saying things they never said before. Normally that should take place in a drawing room, here it takes place on horseback. We were rapidly taken with the idea of leading the story toward a kind of macabre fairy tale. Two kids lost in the forest; they progress in an imagery composed of chromos, in stages, they are heading toward something. There was a story in that utopia that we could tell, especially since it was founded on the highly documented accounts of the Saint-Simonians, who crossed the United States in the 19th century—all that European pre-Socialism that went to the US in search of a new society. The film never contents itself with being simply a reflection on the Western genre. 

Technical: B

Acting: B+

Story: B

Overall: B

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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