Sister (L’enfant D’en Haut) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
December 19, 2013 by Dennis Amith
Ursula Meier’s “Sister” is a fascinating yet heartbreaking film about a a broken family and one boy willing to do all he can to get attention from the only family he has and receive love. Featuring a wonderful performance from the young Kacey Mottet Klein, “Sister” is recommended!
© 2012 Adopt films. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: Sister
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 97 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Color, 16:19, Stereo, French Dolby Digital Stereo with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Adopt Films
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: December 31, 2013
Directed by Ursula Meier
Scenario by Antoine Jaccoud, Ursula Meier, Gilles Taurand, Antoine Jaccoud
Producer: Ruth Waldburger
Co-Producer: Denis Freyd
Executive Producer: Andre Bouvard
Music by John Parish
Cinematography by Agnes Godard
Edited by Nelly Quettier
Casting by Aurelie Guichard
Production Design by Ivan Niclass
Costume Design by Anne Van Bree
Lea Seydoux as Louise
Kacey Mottet Klein as Simon
Martin Compston as Mike
Gillian Anderson as Kristin Jansen
Jean-Francois Stevenin as Le chef-cuisinier
Yann Tregouet as Bruno
Gabin Lefebvre as Marcus
Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) lives with his older sister (Léa Seydoux, Blue Is the Warmest Color) in a housing complex below a luxury Swiss ski resort. With his sister drifting in and out of jobs and relationships, twelve-year-old Simon takes on the responsibility of providing for the two of them. Every day, he takes the lift up to the opulent ski world above, stealing equipment from rich tourists to resell to the local kids down in the valley. He is able to keep their little family afloat with his small-time hustles and his sister is thankful for the money he brings in.
But, when Simon partners with a crooked British seasonal worker, he begins to lose his boundaries, affecting his relationship with his sister and plummeting him into dangerous territory.
From Ursula Meier, the director of the 2008 film “Home” comes a Swiss drama film titled “L’enfant d’en haut” (Sister).
Starring Lea Seydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”), Kacey Mottet Klein (“Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”, “Home”), Martin Compston (“Sweet Sixteen”, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed”) and Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”, “The Last King of Scotland”, “Princess Mononoke”).
The film won the “Special Award – Silver Bear” at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival and made the shortlist as a Swiss entry for the 85th Academy Awards for “Best Foreign Language Film” and won the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for “Best Foreign Feature Film” at the 35th Starz Denver Film Festival.
The film has received wonderful reviews from critics and now it will be released on DVD in Dec. 2013 courtesy of Adopt Films.
“Sister” is a film that revolves around a young boy named Simon (portrayed by Kacey Mottet Klein). During the day, he spends his time up at a luxury ski resort stealing skis, equipment and jackets that are left hanging and also stealing food from wherever he can find it. When he returns back home in the lower level of the valley, he brings what he steals back home to prepare to sell and make money.
So far, his operation has been successful as he learns the business of skiing and equipment and hides the skis in areas buried in snow or wherever he can to retrieve and sell later.
Simon lives with Louise (portrayed by Lea Seydoux), a young woman who doesn’t do quite well with jobs and is preparing to quit another job. But she is happy that her younger brother has found a way to help them survive by bringing them food and also new clothing (which he steals or buys).
But one thing that Simon has difficult with his sister is the guys that she brings home or disappears with. She comes home either drunk or beaten and he doesn’t know what is going on with her life.
Meanwhile, back at work and continuing to steal, Simon becomes attracted to a family. Kristin Jansen (portrayed by Gillian Anderson) is a loving mother of two and when Simon sees them, he sees a loving family, a loving mother, something which he doesn’t have right now in his life.
Meanwhile, as Simon is trying to hide skis as a storage space for a nearby restaurant, he is caught by one of the employees named Mike (portrayed by Martin Compston). When Mike wants to know why he has been stealing, Simon tells him that he is trying to make money as he has no parents and he needs to purchase food and toilet paper. Feeling bad for him, Mike decides to partner with Simon and so both can make some quick money.
When Louise sees Simon making money, she wants to learn how to get involved and he tries to teach her. Unfortunately, she is occupied with the latest guy she is with, a man who drives a BMW.
As the man starts to spend his nights at their place, Simon stars to be concerned about his sister and her new relationship with another man. But what happens when Simon reveals a secret that may destroy his relationship with Louise?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Sister” is presented in widescreen 16:9 and in French Dolby Digital Stereo with English subtitles.
Cinematography by Agnes Godard is very good as it captures two sides of life, one being the luxurious life up in the ski resort but then a dreary, cold and rural town which Simon and his sister lives. Where the ski resort looks like an area of opportunity, the area where Simon and Louise live does not. But it’s an interesting juxtaposition of Simon’s whereabouts.
But the film primarily captures settings but also the difficult life that Simon lives.
“Sister” comes with no special features.
Ursula Meier, director of one of my favorite films of 2008, “Home”, returns with her latest film “Sister”.
A fascinating film about a young boy and his somewhat useless sister living together and barely surviving on the money that Simon makes through stealing skis, clothing, equipment and food from the luxury ski resort and selling it to local people in town and also seasonal workers.
Part of you is captivated by the film because of how Simon is able to generate money from stealing from the rich but how he carefully has everything planned out of where he hides his ski’s or equipment, how he is able to pull of a lot of thefts during at the ski resort.
But also making you wonder, why is this young boy doing all the work? Where is his parents? What is wrong with his sister and why is she unable to hold a job?
Making you wonder if she is a prostitute as she is seen disappearing with different men but also trying to bum off money from Simon and Simon going so far as to bring her clothes.
But we see how Simon is towards other people. Outside of the thefts, he finds himself attracted to a motherly figure (which was a surprise to see “The X-Files” actress Gillian Anderson in the film) and also trying to prove himself that he’s a big boy and can survive on his own.
Obviously the film appears to be about a dysfunctional family, where only a brother and sister have each other to survive. That is until we find out the big reveal from Simon about his relationship with Louise and it’s absolutely heartbreaking that a boy has to endure so many things in the world but everything we have seen of him in the beginning of the film, starts to make sense and you can’t help but see how this relationship that he has, starts to affect him.
The film relies heavily on young actor Kacey Mottet Klein. From his behavior, mannerisms and we become the voyeur to this young boy’s operation of stealing and trying to make money to survive. Klein does a fantastic job of playing the character and making you interested.
Meanwhile, actress Lea Seydoux has a role of playing Louise, a person who no doubt had her issues and is unable to hold a job, unable to take responsibility and part of her is torn between her responsibility to Simon but also wanting to find happiness with some man.
But the secret that both Louise and Simon will surely affect their relationship if any of the truth comes out.
As much as I would like to get into details, it would spoil the main premise of the film. But I will say that the way this boy was brought into this world, for the most part, unloved and has been taught to believe that to get love, you must pay money upfront, is devastating and most unfortunate.
As for the DVD, picture quality is good as what can expect on DVD. Dialogue is Dolby Digital Stereo and there are no special features. So, “Sister” is pretty much a barebones DVD release.
Overall, Ursula Meier’s “Sister” is a fascinating yet heartbreaking film about a a broken family and one boy willing to do all he can to get attention from the only family he has and receive love. Featuring a wonderful performance from the young Kacey Mottet Klein, “Sister” is recommended!
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