Sisters is directed by Brain De Palma who also co-writes the screenplay with Louisa Rose. It stars Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, Lisle Wilson and William Finley. Music is by Bernard Herrmann and cinematography by Gregory Sandor.
When newspaper reporter Grace Collier (Salt) observes what she perceives to be a murder in the apartment across the street from her own, it proves to be the catalyst for a trip down a dark psychologically damaged street.
To be honest here, the continuous complaints about De Palma being a Hitchcock clone got boring around about the mid eighties. As Hitch is my personal favourite director it has never bothered me one bit that he homaged and borrowed from the great man's cannon, in fact I have always found that when on form it was great to have someone like De Palma to keep the suspense thriller genre going. It's not as if he's the only one who owes his career to director's from the past really is it?
Sisters is a wonderfully trippy suspenser, where De Palma lifts from some great Hitchcock motifs to portray a clinically edgy story based around an article he read about Siamese twins Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova. Infused with technical flourishes such as split screens, POV filming and close quarter framing, the director is donating his own blood for the veins of the piece. Suspense is rarely far away, be it characters in some sort of danger, or the possible discovery of a body, there is no pause for pointless filler fodder. While twists and revelations engage the brain instead of insulting it, something many of today's horror/thriller directors could learn to "homage" from actually, and a nightmare section of film literally unfurled out of the minds eye is top draw.
Herrmann was enticed out of near retirement to score the music, the genre and themes at work in the story ready made for his skilled compositions. The score in all essence is lifted from his own major works for Hitchcock, with added sections taken from Jason and the Argonauts and Mysterious Island, but reworked in such away it drifts a perfectly off-kilter vibe across production. Kidder and Salt do great work in tricky roles, and Finley is suitably edgy. Durning is a little wasted, though, but it's a small complaint in the acting area. There's a couple of plot holes and one turn of events that just doesn't make sense, but this is a prime De Palma thriller and a good starting point for anyone interested in his work. And yes! For anyone who really isn't bothered about someone homaging a past master. 8/10
on 9 November 2007
This is a great film! Although the acting is a bit rough for a few characters I found myself drawn into the story line. We have Danielle Breton (Margot Kidder) has a one-night stand with a black TV-game show player. The morning after, he is killed by Danielle's psycho twin sister, Dominique Blanchion. But Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt), an aspiring journalist, sees everything from her flat across the street. Things get even uglier when the journalist starts following Danielle and his strange ex-husband, Dr. Emil Breton (De Palma perennial weirdo Bill Finley). What dark secret lies behind this murder? Uh? Of course, nobody really seems to care about the plot - De Palma plays the genre rules, twisting every second with his split screen techniques and neat suspense touches. There is a "dream" sequence, some blood, a hideous scar, drugs and a birthday cake.
Sure, the movie owes more than a passing nod to Psycho (Collector's Edition) and Rear Window (Collector's Edition)specifically, but De Palma's exhilarating use of that split-screen technique as well as Margot Kidder's creepy performance add up to a genuinely frightening experience. The "peeping tom" opening is brilliant. The humor doesn't lessen the shock, but rather enhances it by keeping the audience continually caught off guard. He takes the most vulnerable and receptive of human reactions--laughter, fear, and anticipation--and pushes them to their extremes until the audience is caught up in giddy bewilderment. You don't know what the director is going to pull next, so you can't prepare yourself.
De Palma is nothing if not a visceral filmmaker, and in his comfort with the comic and the horrific, he resembles Roman Polanski more than he does Hitchcock. Taking into consideration their mutually varied filmographies and how they've been received, it seems a more apt comparison. The one major difference is that Polanski has a deep sense of the tragic, and almost always ends on that note. Not so much De Palma. In the final scene in Sisters, we find Charles Durning's private dick, who had all but disappeared from the movie, high up on a telephone pole dressed as an electrician, dutifully watching a couch through a pair of binoculars. The movie is over in every way--the blood has been shed, the mystery has been solved, and the suspense is gone--except that it apparently isn't. De Palma wants to leave us with something else. So we have Durning waiting to see who comes to get the couch. This could well be that Shock Recovery Period that the movie posters promoted. This was another great film that was highly recommended by Chris and the one only #1 Depalma fan R.A. Bean which I greatly enjoyed.
on 9 July 2015
In 1973, when this film was first seen, Brian De Palma was, for most people, that guy who'd made a bit of a splash at the end of the 60s with a weird, edgy sort-of-comedy called "Greetings", which introduced us to a new actor called Robert De Niro and got a lot of encouraging reviews. With "Sisters", we met the rather less interesting De Palma with whom we've all become so very familiar since, the guy who wants to be the new Alfred Hitchcock, only kinkier. "Sisters" has been hailed as a masterpiece by some, and even as some sort of radical feminist statement; it's nothing of the sort, of course. It's an amazingly tasteless piece of exploitation, inviting us to leer (or else get all tingly) about physical deformity, and it's also what we rapidly came to expect from De Palma, a blatant series of rip-offs. Now, it's quite possible to enjoy the various directorial homages to "Psycho" and "Rear Window" studded about, at least for a little while; it's only in the last twenty or so minutes that the film becomes genuinely objectionable. But, as so often, when we're reminded of those marvellous films, we're also reminded that they were very much better than this one, and far more affecting on a human level as well as a merely visceral one. That De Palma offers us none of the intellectual interest of Hitchcock's work is not surprising. Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt do make a lively pair of heroines - so much so that one feels that their characters deserve better fates - and William (Bill) Finley, an oddball presence in subsequent De Palma films, too, is very memorable. It's a very good-looking film, belying its small budget. Bernard Herrmann's music is terrific. The script is the big problem, as is true of altogether too many other De Palma movies - it's almost as if he couldn't be bothered to sort out its problems and fine-tune it. The aforementioned obnoxious aspects that screenplay inadequacies lead us toward as the film nears its end should not be minimised. "Sisters" may want to be Hitchcockian, but it's far more in the school of such dreadful movies as the Boulting Brothers' "Twisted Nerve" or Michael Winner's "The Sentinel" - although it's certainly better-made than either.
on 11 April 2012
Danielle Breton meets Philip Woode on the set of a tv show called The Peeping Toms, as a prize he wins a dinner for two and decides to invite Danielle after they hit it off. During the romantic meal, they are rudely interrupted by her ex-husband Emil who insists she leaves with him. After a small altercation, Emil is escorted from the restaurant. Later on that night Danielle and Philip end up back at her apartment in Staten Island where Philip spots Emil outside, to get rid of Emil, Philip leaves the apartment and sneaks back later when Emil is gone. Philip arrives back at the apartment and the two make love on the sofa, where it's revealed that Danielle has a horriffic scar down her side. In the morning Philip wakes up to the sound of Danielle and her twin sister Dominique arguing in the corridor, so he slips into the bathroom to change where he accidentally knocks some pills down the sink. When Danielle comes back into the apartment, she tells Philip it's her birthday and asks if he can pick her up some more pills from a chemist to which he agrees. When Philip returns a few hours later with a birthday cake, he passes her a knife to cut it with. Suddenly she plunges the knife into Philip and stabs him several times, leaving Philip to crawl to the window in hope of help. As it turns out, budding reporter Grace Collier does see Philip and calls the police immediately. By the time the police arrive and get to Danielle's apartment, she and Emil have cleaned up Dominique's mess and left no evidence. Grace must now take it upon herself to bring the murderer to justice, with the help of a private detective.
Sisters has some really good performances in it. Margot Kidder is excellent as Danielle/Dominique, Sisters was one of her first starring roles and certainly a role that established her as an actress to look out for. She quickly followed it up with a great performance as potty mouthed drunk Barb in Black Christmas, but it was her role as Lois Lane in Superman that really cemented her as a successful actress. The Amityville Horror followed the year later, and then arrived the inevitable Superman sequels. After Superman 3 in 1983, 10 years after Sisters, her career hasn't exactly been filled with great roles. To anyone that isn't a huge fan of Margot Kidder, it's doubtful you will be familiar with most of her work after Superman 3. Only the completely unnecessary but decent Superman 4 in 1987 offered brief hope of her once successful film career getting back on track, it wasn't to be. I can only imagine the roles dried up due to her becoming typecast as Lois Lane, a role that was a blessing and possibly a curse. Two time academy award nominee Charles Durning puts in a great performance as the private investigator, he's an excellent actor and along with his roles in The Sting, Dog Day Afternoon, and the hugely underrated horror's When A Stranger Calls and Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, this is my favourite. De Palma regular William Finley as Emil is extremely strange looking and creepy, Jennifer Salt plays Grace Collier with plenty of gusto, Lisle Wilson is really likeable as Philip and there's small roles from Barnard Hughes and Olympia Dukakis.
Brian De Palma really set the bar for his future films in 1973 when he made Sisters, previously he had been directing comedies with a very young Robert De Niro. Coincidentally 1973 was the same year De Niro hit the big time with his first of many collaborations with Martin Scorsese, when he played Johnny Boy in Mean Streets. Sisters has a massive Alfred Hitchcock influence, at times it feels like you're watching a Hitchcock film, he even employed the semi-retired music composer Bernard Herrmann who provided a wonderful score. De Palma uses split screen brilliantly, so we can see exactly what's going on. My favourite use of this was when Philip is looking for help through the window, we see what he sees and we also see him from Grace's point of view. The cinematography and editing is excellent, there's a little nudity, the murder of Philip early on in the film is still shocking and brutal today despite the use of red paint, as was the norm back then. The tension and sense of unease is always there, except for the few moments of comedy that works in breaking up the mood. The film also has some moments shot in black and white, it's also beautifully done to look aged and atmospheric.
Sadly the dvd is somewhat disappointing, the transfer is nice, but there are no extras to speak of. No commentary, no making of, not even a trailer or cast biographies. Even worse there aren't even subtitles on the disc, making the film useless to the hard of hearing. Sisters is a wonderful film that mixes horror, drama and a little comedy, and the start of De Palma's more grown up murder/mystery films. Apart from Carrie which is his masterpiece in my opinion, this is just about the best of his horror/murder/mystery films. Scarface, The Untouchables, Casualties Of War, Carlito's Way and Mission Impossible saw him drop horror in favour of drama. Sisters is not for the blood and guts crowd, it's more of a psychological horror that has a crazy last 15 minutes. The final shot is just a delight, and a perfect end to a creepy and strange film. Stephen Rea and Chloe Sevigny appeared in a completely pointless remake in 2006, it's a dreadful film and not worth checking out.
on 16 February 2015
The first 40 minutes will have you gripped, as Brian De Palma presents to us SISTERS. Margot Kidder is outstanding as the French Canadian sultress who has bit time work on TV quiz shows, but unless she takes her pills she goes a little.....crazy. De Palma directs as usual very well, though his whole career seems to have been undermined by his fanatic love for Alfred Hitchcock. The hidden body scene which is superbly tense is obviously a homage to Hitchcock's ROPE.
But we should talk about Kidder, who stars in one of her greatest performances. She has the French accent down perfectly but it is also her manerisms. Kidder was a fine actress, you can see she did her research for this role. So despite Kidder's performance and De Palma's genuis, Sisters fails as a whole movie. The second half turns into an unravelling slow mess. Kidder is hardly in it and the story takes an almost TV movie look- De Palma would repeat this with the brilliant but flawed DRESSED TO KILL, 7 years later. Suddenly we see lapses in the script and the tension fades. Everything is thrown together as if you are watching something dressed for television. Oh what could have been......
The score is annoying too because it is from the great Bernard Herrmann who of course worked on many Hitchcock movies, it is overbearing at times - There is a thin line between homage and taking it too far.
Jennifer Salt plays Grace a reporter who witnesses the murder and she is determined to find the body and bring the killers to justice. She is helped by a private eye played by Charles Durning, a fine actor. However Durning is in the movie for about 5 minutes before heading off to Canada- and his story is simply forgotten. There is a little twist at the end which is fun but all in all the movie comes together too predictably.
Techincally Sisters is a good movie, but it could have been one of THE suspense thrillers of the 1970s. In fact take out the one gore scene and this would have been perfect for the 50s.
This PATHE 2006 release is a must for De Palma fans, and those who may not be too familiar with his work. He does attract differing opinions, but I think he is a great filmaker, even tho he suffers from comparison to Hitchcock - but then - he does ask for that - just a bit. "Sisters" is so full of twists and turns that to even try and describe the basic plot can give away too much. Suffice to say it's about "Sisters", Murder Most Foul, and lots of mystery. A weird "out there" performence from Margot Kidder carries it along, and she is well supported by Jennifer Salt, Dolph Sweet as a detective, and Charles Durning. After a slow build up it never really lets up right up to it's effective climax. An excellent print and price all help. Recomended, and I so very nearly gave it 5 stars. Perhaps I should!?
on 6 April 2013
This isn't De Palma's finest work but it is Margot Kidders'. The story is, in retrospect, rather predictable until the final reel, which is superb - echoes of Cronenberg's 'The Brood' here. Flatmates Kidder and Jennifer Salt are hugely underrated, but perhaps they didn't have great material or dialogue to work with in those days.
De Palma is still working out his directing chops, which were to flourish so well in Carrie, Dressed to Kill and Carlito's Way (All five stars). Here. he's still homaging his mentor, Hitchcock, but he seems to be taking ideas from Frenzy or the Birds, rather than Psycho. A curio pice, work a look, but not much more - except for Kidders coy and sexy French Canadian Accent.
7.0 is quite a measly score on IMDb, for such a good Brian de Palma film and as for a debut, well, it's intelligent, suspenseful and different, though its nods to the Master, Hitchcock are both critically recognised and acclaimed.
Also known as 'Blood Sisters', the movie also encroaches (to my mind) on David Cronenberg's territory, especially during the superbly executed and creepy fantasy sequence. It'll have you guessing right to the end - and beyond, it has red herrings and both clarity and obliqueness in spades.
Yes, it does look typically 1970's US crime drama, the fashion and the gas guzzling cars but it remains extremely watchable, now, almost 40 years on. What is also quite remarkable is that De Palma co-wrote the screenplay and the story is an involved one and rather unsettlingly, an almost believable one. That cannot be said for the vast majority of crime horror-thrillers.
Quebec actress/model Danielle (or should that be Dominique? her conjoined sister, who was surgically separated at the hip from her Siamese Twin), has a one-night stand with a black man she meets. In true 'Rear Window' fashion, an ambitious journalist, (played by Jennifer Salt) who's had reason to write unfavourable pieces about the police, dials 911, after the victim staggers to a window opposite hers and scrawls 'help' in blood on the glass.
There's always a shadowy and creepy character hanging about. Dominique (Danielle?) always states that he's her ex husband but we soon find out that Emil Breton (Bill Finley) is actually the very surgeon who carried out the separation. Nothing much more needs to be said on this, or any other part of the story, to not spoil or give too much away. However, smarmy, thick spectacled Mr Breton has an uncanny resemblance to Donald Sutherland, or at least the type of individual he might portray.
There's De Palma's splashes of flashy, but interesting direction, such as a very effective split screens. There's the right amount of suspense and whilst it doesn't reach the heights of the classic Carrie, nor the sheer directorial aplomb of his The Untouchables, 'Sisters' is a pretty fine film and at the now bargain price the DVD is, there are no excuses for De Palma fans, or even Hitch's, indeed anyone who enjoys a decent and clever horror-thriller to not indulge.
This was my second viewing; the first having been on TV a long time ago.
on 7 November 2011
Although I like several directors with different styles, but Brian De Palma is My top director, as he can turn the most absurd and simple screenplay into a visual feast, through inventive camera work , slick direction, imaginative shots, and getting unique performances from his actors, and this movie sis no exception, an early venture by "The Master Of Macabre" -De Palma- that borrows from the master of suspense -Hitchcock-, with adding his own style to it so that he avoid "Cloning or Rip-Off", i will not discuss the details of this thriller, as i said, it may be not much, but it is a must seen for every one who wants to see a thriller with a style that will grab your attention from start to finish with visuals to spare; Warning: this one is mot for the squeamish.
on 14 July 2011
Sisters 1973 was Brian DePalma's seventh feature and his first success, being a stylish Alfred Hitchcock-inspired chiller that thematically informed much of De Palma's subsequent filmography (notably Obsession, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double and Raising Cain). The film's stars Margot Kidder (who's never been better in a movie) and Jennifer Salt were roommates at the time and close friends of DePalma, while co-star William Finley was a college friend of the director who starred in quite a few of his films, including DePalma's very first feature Murder a la mod in 1968. The story's about Danielle Breton, an attractive young model who meets a young man on a game show. The aggressive Danielle lures the man back to her apartment where the two have a tryst. But the following morning the guy is stabbed to death, apparently by Danielle's deranged twin sister Dominique. The killing is witnessed by Grace Collier, a muckraking reporter from her apartment window. Grace soon calls the police and then starts delving into Danielle's dark past by doing some investigating. In many respects SISTERS is a dry run for Brian DePalma's Dressed to Kill (1980), which closely replicates its overall structure. That structure, of course, is borrowed from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, with its early insinuation that we'll be following the fortunes of a character who is shockingly killed off in the opening 20 minutes. Other Hitchcock films referenced in Sisters include Rear Window (in the overall emphasis on voyeurism) and Spellbound (in the themes of psychological domination). Yet DePalma was particularly inspired here, and adds a wealth of bizarre and imaginative touches. The voyeuristic game show of the opening scene begins the film on a psychologically unsettling note entirely appropriate to the subject matter, while the red and white color scheme of the protagonist's apartment building is interestingly weird. The film is largely free of the gimmicky visuals of DePalma's later efforts, yet does contain one highly recognizable DePalma trademark: an early split screen sequence simultaneously depicting the murder that sets the narrative in motion and Grace witnessing it from her apartment window. It's one of the finest-ever uses of a split-screen, at once a startling cinematic innovation and an example of narrative ingenuity that (unlike so many of DePalma's other tricks) doesn't feel gratuitous or show-offy. This stylish and slick psychological thriller comes highly recommended.