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Little Sister (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]

littlesisterColleen is a former Goth kid who has found her calling and is working towards becoming a nun.  After her brother comes back from war heavily damaged psychologically and physically, their mom pleads with Colleen to come for a visit.  A simple few days at home turn into a rediscovery of self, of her relationship with her family, and of her passion for her calling.

Written by Zach Clark from a story by Clark and Melodie Sisk, Little Sister is directed by Zach Clark who builds a family drama showing the real sides of people who start off by avoiding each other, then become closer through reminiscing and through getting to know each other again.  The characters they build here do feel like a family that lost touch and is learning to know each other anew.  The way this is written and done feels organic and natural.  This family is not perfect and neither are their relationships but the care and love they have for each other transcends their issues and differences.  The characters created are human, none perfect, none all bad, they are just trying to navigate life as best they can.

This Lunsford family is comprised of: Joani, Bill, Jacob, and Colleen who the story follows.  Ally Sheedy is Joani, Peter Hedges is Bill, Keith Poulson is Jacob, and Addison Timlin is the lead of colleen.  Ally Sheedy shows the viewers why they fell in love with her in the 80s by giving a touching performance of a stressed out mom who did all she could to give her two kids a great life.  She embodies the mom full of worries who doesn’t know how to handle her adult children.  Addison Timlin as Colleen shows growth for her character throughout the film, starting off as a timid young nun-to-be and ending as a confident woman sure of her path as a nun.

As the brother Jacob, Keith Poulson shows as much as he can under his full head prosthetic. Much of his performance rests on his voice and body language, which he uses very well. The prosthetics for Jacob’s burnt at war head and face was made by Brian Spears and Pete Gerner and is fairly well done but not great unfortunately.  For most of the film, it’s applied well, but in a few scenes, the application is not full and the second “skin” can be seen moving separately and un-sticking from the actor’s face, something that is annoying but not film breaking.

The cinematography by Daryl Pittman makes the family house look cozy, warm even.  The way interactions are framed helps focus the attention on what is important.  The music by Fritz Myers paired with the song choices underscore the action and add to Colleen’s personality.  They add to the emotions and make the film a complete experience.

Little Sister starts on a Marilyn Manson quote and ends on a much different note, following the evolution of Colleen’s life and her emotional growth.  This film is a wonderful study of family dynamics and personal growth.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 14th until August 3rd, 2016 and will be back in the summer of 2017.