January 28, 2019  (Web Review)

The Sisters Brothers

Fox, 122 min., R, DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, Feb. 5

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Based on the titular 2011 novel by Patrick deWitt, director Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers is an episodic, picaresque Western that is held together by a strong cast. Brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix) are gunslingers who are employed by the enigmatic Commodore (Rutger Hauer) to kill anyone he feels has wronged him. Eli, older and more cautious, keeps close tabs on the younger and more voluble Charlie, whose drinking and whoring invite serious trouble during their travels. After wiping out a passel of ruffians for some unspecified offense, the siblings are assigned to terminate Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed), a chemist who developed a formula to make gold glisten in a stream for easy extraction and then absconded with it. Warm has been discovered to be travelling to California by the Commodore’s punctilious agent Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), who keeps an eye on Warm until the brothers can catch up. But when all of the principals meet, matters go awry. The Sisters Brothers carries a wry, understated tone, not only due to Reilly’s genial performance but also thanks to the inflated language that is frequently adopted by the characters. And while there are also moments of poignancy and violence, the mixture of tonalities here works more often than not. Recommended. (F. Swietek)