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Sister My Sister

4.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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(Sep 14, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A true story of shocking violence catapults a picturesque little town into history. Julie Walters stars as the head of a perfectly respectable household that is not what it seems. The close sibling relationship between the two maids takes on a new dimension as Walters discovers a sexual fever between the two sisters. The tensions reach the breaking point in a film you'll find both beautiful and horrifying.

Amazon.com

Christine (Joely Richardson) and Lea (Jodhi May) are sisters who were separated at a young age. Through Christine's clever machinations, they have been reunited by working as maids for a very proper lady and her bored and restless daughter. When the already passionate bond between the sisters becomes sexual, it sets up a series of events that lead to tragedy. Set in 1932 France, this film is supposedly based on a true story. Viewers looking for a sort of Playboy meets Merchant-Ivory romp will have to look elsewhere--the sex here is very discreet. Instead what we get is a nifty little piece of suspense and psychological horror that features taut direction, a smart script, spotless production values, and a topnotch cast. Julie Walters is marvelously funny--and scary--as the lady of the house who "sees everything" (but actually can't see beyond the tip of her nose), and Joely Richardson is heartbreaking as a seemingly self-reliant woman who is terrified of having her sister taken away again. --Geof Miller

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Julie Walters, Joely Richardson, Jodhi May, Sophie Thursfield, Amelda Brown
  • Directors: Nancy Meckler
  • Writers: Wendy Kesselman
  • Producers: Joyce Herlihy, Norma Heyman
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 14, 1999
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000JWW9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,688 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sister My Sister" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sheila Chilcote-Collins VINE VOICE on April 5, 2004
Format: DVD
Set in the 1930's, in the small town of Le Mans in France, two sisters, Christine, the eldest & Lea, the kyounger, are hired on as cook and chambermaid to an upper middle-class widow & her only daughter, Madame and Madamoiselle Lancelin. Based on France's true crime of the century, Julie Walters as the perfectionistic & haughty, Madame Lancelin & Joely Richardson as the eldest master manipulator sister, Christine Papin turn in EXCEPTIONAL performances & the rest of the cast is well above average in their undertakings also.
In February, 1933, the whole of France was horrified to learn of an unspeakably savage double murder that had taken
place in the town of Le Mans. Two respectable, middle-class women, mother and daughter, had been murdered by their
maids, two sisters who lived in the house. The maids had not simply killed the women, but had gouged their eyes out
with their fingers while they were alive and had then used a hammer and knife to reduce both women to a bloody pulp.
The full force of the attack was directed at the heads and the victims were left literally unrecognizable.
Adding the bizarre to the horrifying, the sisters made no attempt to escape (...) Interesting, no? This naturally added a dimension of scandal and titillation to the case. Were the maids having a sexual relationship? If so, it was both homosexual and incestuous. Overnight, the two sisters, aged 21 and 27, became France's most infamous couples who kill.
This film delves into all the speculation of the case but also has some unexplained parts about the sisters' youth & their obvious mistreatment & abuse.
There are quite a many double entendres & a look into both couples chiefly meaning the two sisters and the mother and daughter Lancelin relationships.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There is a saying that damaged people are very dangerous. One extreme case of damage turning people dangerous is the famous case of France's Christine and Lea Papin, who shocked the nation in 1933 by not merely committing murder, but by doing so with such violence that no one could really understand what had happened, "Sister My Sister" is a very accurate, fascinating psychological study of four women in le France profound, a small provincial town where class rules, family behavior, Catholic restrictions combined to make life so circumscribed that any sort of freedom was impossible, even in one's own home. This fact is addressed with light charm in the film "Chocolat" where chocolate-eating equals sinning (unthinkable to us!) and being "different" is nearly criminal, but to those who lived in these places in the not so distant past, one's life was never unscrutinized by someone, somewhere, and for domestics, the mistress or master of the house could become a genuine tyrant, terrorizing the staff into desperation. For those who could not escape to a loving family, or Paris, or any place but where they were stuck, life had to be lived as best as possible. In fact, the costume designer of "Chocolat" pointed out that in the towns they scouted, people were still dressed in clothes from the 1st half of the century; change is slow and progress practically non-existent.

The two sisters, powerfully portrayed by Joely Richardson as the elder Christine, and Jodhi May as the younger, Lea, have only one another for the most part. Their mother,seen abandoning Christine at the start of the film, is an enemy to Christine who, once Lea joins her, encourages Lea to break her ties to her mother immediately.
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Format: VHS Tape
Sister My Sister is like "Heavenly Creatures" with more sex and less madness. It simply lacks the nuanced believability of "Creatures'" Paulie and Juliet's descent into madness as well as "Creatures'" top-notch production values. That said, any movie that even deems comparison with the now-classic Heavenly Creatures is clearly good and worth-seeing in some respects. And indeed, Sister My Sister creates a claustrophobic, quietly sickening atmosphere which left an intriguing grab on my emotions.
Jodhi May and Joely Richardson star as unnaturally close sisters, Leah and Christine. The two work as maids for a sadistic gentlewoman (Julie Davies, Mrs. Weasely in Harry Potter) and her adult daughter that she endlessly oppresses. Through various sisterly activities and excellent acting by both May and Richardson, they are completely believable as sisters. Thus their eventual sexual relationship not only intellectually but emotionally feels incestual, a nuanced feat that the filmmakers effectively pulled off.
But what drives Leah and Christine to become lovers and later criminals? Their despotic employer? Too close of quarters? Pre-existing emotional instability? I believe the answer is all three, and speculation seems warranted since this movie is in fact based on a true story, the sensationalistic crime that shocked (and also entertained) 1930's France... the OJ Simpson case of the time...
The primary reason to see this movie is not for a history lesson though. It is about the drama between the sisters, as their relationship evolves towards progressively extreme heights. And it is for this drama that the film should be seen. What keeps it all afloat is the fantastic acting on display.
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