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The Sisters
DVD disk
06.23.2006 By: Scott Weinberg
The Sisters order
Director:
Arthur Allan Seidelman

Actors:
Maria Bello
Elizabeth Banks
Mary Stuart Masterson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Three colorfully miserable sisters (and one brother) meet on occasion and then scream their heads off at one another.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Based on Anton Chekhov's THREE SISTERS, Arthur Siedelman's The SISTERS takes the main characters out of old-school Russia and plops 'em on down in a swanky American university so they can proceed to bicker, argue, fight, and spit really nasty invectives at one another. Just goes to show you that you can be rich, smart, beautiful, and accomplished ... and still be as miserable as us middle-class drones.

Although shot in a very handsome fashion (and boasting some truly excellent performances, which we'll get to in a minute), THE SISTERS feels a whole lot like a stage play ... which it is. That's not to say you can't have a "stagy" movie that's still insightful and/or entertaining, but this film doesn't look like it was "adapted" from a stage play as much as it was "filmed" at a stage play. The actors frequently storm off-stage left, the locations are few, and some of the dialogue is definitely "theater speak" -- long and elaborate mini-speeches that might work perfectly in a theatrical setting, but for a movie it gets a little stifling.

Perfectly enjoyable as a well-scrubbed soap opera (what with all the dirty secrets and verbal cat-fights), THE SISTERS brings a rather solid ensemble cast to the party. Maria Bello pretty much walks away with the flick (plus, because she's playing a very erudite mega-bitch, she gets most of the best lines), but you'll also find some excellent work from folks like Rip Torn, Elizabeth Banks, Alessandro Nivola, Tony Goldwyn, Erika Christensen, and the always-great Mary Stuart Masterson. Heck, even Chris O'Donnell and Eric McCormack get to play against type -- and do a damn fine job of it.

THE EXTRAS
Director Arthur Allan Seidelman and screenwriter Richard Alfieri contribute a pretty high-quality audio commentary to the platter. The pair discuss the pitfalls in adapting a stage play (particularly a stage play inspired by a classic), how they landed such a fantastic cast, and what the non-stop on-screen bickering means to them. It's not exactly a beer & bong hits commentary, but those who enjoy the film should also dig the chat-track.

Also included is the original theatrical trailer.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I'd heard mixed things about THE SISTERS prior to seeing it, but I found its eclectic mixture of upper-crust malcontents pretty darn fascinating. One can forgive the slight "staginess" of the adaptation, mainly because there's a lot of solid zingers in the screenplay -- but also because the cast is that much fun to watch.
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