CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Memorable ‘Sister’ Strikes Emotional Chords
CHICAGO – With a delicacy and melancholy reminiscent of the Dardennes brothers, Ursula Meier’s “Sister,” shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and opening tomorrow in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre, is a heartbreakingly effective piece of work about a boy forced to be a man by his circumstance. The film is sometimes a bit too languid for its own good but strong cinematography, excellent performances, and a deft touch with how adulthood can be forced upon what should be carefree adolescence make it emotionally memorable without ever feeling manipulative.
Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) is not an average twelve-year-old. He lives at the base of a mountain upon which rests an Alpine ski resort well-trafficked by the wealthy. Seemingly every day, Simon goes to the resort and raids it for equipment – boots, skis, masks, etc. – that he then resells to pay for food for himself and his sister Louise (Lea Seydoux). When a worker at the resort named Mike (Martin Compston) catches him in the act, he ends up serving as a conduit for Simon’s activity. Steal from the clientele, resell to the staff. Gillian Anderson makes a brief-but-effective appearance as one of the tourists who symbolizes the solid family life Simon wishes he could have without Meier forcing that aspect of the narrative.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Sister” in our reviews section.|
Life at home is bad for Simon. Louise is unsupportive in every regard, often not coming home for days at a time and even criticizing the food that Simon steals to keep her fed. She is notably older than Simon and yet the boy is supporting the woman. At first, it feels like “Sister” is a film designed to encourage us to root for the more responsible (even if he is a thief) child to leave his downright abusive sister behind but then “Sister” takes an unexpected turn, revealing something about the relationship between Louise & Simon that makes the entire piece that much more heartbreaking.
Photo credit: Adopt Films