The Sisters Brothers (2018)


Directed by Jacques Audiard
Country: USA / France / other

This is a gratifying adaptation of Patrick deWitt's novel by French director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet; Rust and Bone; Deephan), who commands an excellent cast with John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix in the leading roles, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed as credible supporting actors. In his first English-language film, Audiard, who co-wrote the script with regular associate Thomas Bidegain, provides quite a bit fun as he depicts sequential reverses in the life of two criminal brothers, Charlie (Phoenix) and Eli Sisters (Reilly). The occurrences are incidental to a ravenous gold rush that starts in 1851 Oregon and ends in San Francisco.

While the younger brother, Charlie, is dangerously impulsive - he drinks and kills with equivalent zest, Eli is tired of being an assassin on the run. He actually lives to cover his brother’s misconducts. Both work for the Commodore (Rutger Hauer), a harmful man who assigned them to fetch Hermann Kermit Warm (Ahmed), a gold prospector and chemist who developed a secret formula to extract gold from rivers. Also in his tail is John Morris (Gyllenhaal), a patient detective with an intellectual posture, whose mission is befriending him before giving him away to the brothers. The plans change after Warm and Morris become true friends, which leads the former to make an irresistible proposition to the brothers. They promptly accept, also agreeing to part ways after this job. However, the unreliable Charlie puts everyone in danger after a terrible lapse. The ending is a pure nostalgic pleasure.


With salient dark humor popping out from time to time and a great score by Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water; Argo; The King’s Speech), The Sisters Brothers provides proper entertainment even when things become a bit out of control. The strong performances by the leads help to shape curious characters with strong personalities, and Audiard plunges into the Western genre with conviction and panache, offering reasonably more than just the essential. It may be a passive film at times, but never exhausting.