Sister My Sister

Sister My Sister

Director: Nancy Meckler Cast: Julie Walters, Joely Richardson, Jodhi May

DVD (Dolby 5.1 / Stereo)

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In this stark drama based on actual events in a small French town in the early '30s, a pair of repressed sisters slowly lose their grip on reality, leading to horrific consequences at the home where they're employed as maids. Christine (Joely Richardson), a domestic servant in the home of haughty widow Madame Danzard (Julie Walters), takes pride in her efficiency and deference. Raised by nuns, Christine bitterly resents her penniless mother, but remains devoted to her younger, similarly convent-reared sister, Lea (Jodhi May). When Lea, too, comes to work for Madame Danzard, Christine trains her dutifully while also driving a wedge between the girl and their mother. The sisters' emotional bond eventually becomes a sexual one, too, and as they turn inward their work suffers, leading to increasing disapproval from their employer. Meanwhile, Christine is driven mad with jealousy at what she perceives as a flirtation between Lea and Madame Danzard's sullen daughter, Isabelle (Sophie Thursfield). Tensions reach a boiling point when the widow and her daughter return home one evening to find burned garments, uncompleted housework, and the sisters holed up in their room together, smelling of sex. Adapted by Wendy Kesselman from her Pulitzer Prize-winning play, My Sister in This House, Sister My Sister was based on the true story of Christine and Lea Papin, whose grisly 1933 murders have also inspired several other works. In addition to Jean Genet's 1948 play The Maids, the incident was the basis for Jean-Pierre Denis' feature Les Blessures Assassines and the documentary En Quete Des Soeurs Papin, both released in 2000. The real-life Christine Papin died after four years in prison, but Lea was released after ten years of hard labor and lived for several more decades in another small French town.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/14/1999
UPC: 0014381576924
Original Release: 1994
Rating: R
Source: Image Entertainment
Sound: [Dolby Digital, stereo]
Time: 1:26:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Julie Walters Madame Danzard
Joely Richardson Christine
Jodhi May Lea
Sophie Thursfield Isabelle Danzard
Amelda Brown Visitor
Kate Gartside Sister Veronica

Technical Credits
Nancy Meckler Director
Caroline Amies Production Designer
Lindy Hemming Costumes/Costume Designer
Joyce Herlihy Associate Producer
Norma Heyman Producer
Wendy Kesselman Screenwriter
Davina Nicholson Asst. Director
Ashley Rowe Cinematographer
Jenny Shircore Makeup
David Stiven Editor
Frank Walsh Art Director
Stephen Warbeck Score Composer

Scene Index

Side #1
0. Chapter Index
1. Main Titles; France, 1932 [7:51]
2. Lunch [4:40]
3. The Work [2:08]
4. Stories of Youth [5:11]
5. Life with Madame [4:45]
6. A Letter from Mama [5:43]
7. "She'll Never Stop loving You" [4:20]
8. Sisterly Love [6:26]
9. A Minor Accident [2:30]
10. Isabel's Birthday [1:24]
11. Photographing a Memory [1:56]
12. Playtime [3:51]
13. Back to Work [4:38]
14. Going too far [3:22]
15. Sewing [2:17]
16. "You're All I I Have" [5:05]
17. Nightmares [2:44]
18. "What Will Madame Do?" [4:48]
19. Madame Comes Home [7:08]
20. "You Will Be Judged" [3:16]
21. End Credits [1:38]

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Sister My Sister 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is a major player in this extremely fine film who goes all but unmentioned: the work of cinematographer Ashley Rowe is some of the finest on film, creating an atmosphere solely within the confines of a home made dark by lack of light and by brooding madness and murder. The effect achieved is nothing short of miraculous and further adds to the importance of this under-rated movie. Based on the infamous Papin sisters' murder of their employer and daughter in 1932 in France, SISTER MY SISTER is based on a play by Wendy Kesselman (who also wrote the mesmerizing screenplay) and is directed by the imaginatively fine Nancy Meckler. Two sisters - Christine the eldest (Joely Richardson) and Lea (Jodhi May) are shown during the titles in black and white as poor orphans separated to different ends. As the film begins Christine has introduced her estranged beloved Lea to her employer, the rigid and strange Madame Danzard (Julie Walters) and her wallflower daughter Isabelle (Sophie Thursfield). Lea is hired by the penny pinching Madame Danzard and the two sisters co-serve as maids to the household. Christine and Lea view each other as not only sisters but as lovers and it is this latter role that leads Madame Danzard (spying contemptibly on the girls) that is the final straw in Madame's mistreatment of the girls that leads to the rather shocking murder of both Madame Danzard and Isabelle. We know from the start - both from the infamous case and from the opening sequences where the blood of the deed is seen along the stairwell - what the ending will be: it is the progress to that end that concerns the film. Each of the actresses is brilliant in their roles, roles that are far cries from the usual types that each actress has played. Julie Walters manages to ooze vitriol while moments later being oddly comedic in her la-la land of dancing to her Victrola. Joely Richardson is terrifyingly strange and Jodhi May says more with her facial expressions than legions of actors do with complex scripts. But again the physical ominous presence of the house of bad things is so magnificently created by Rowe's creative photography that is becomes of equal importance as a character. The musical score by Stephen Warbeck works solidly to convey the descent into madness of the two sisters. A brilliant tour de force for all concerned and highly recommended for those who love fine acting and dark thrillers. Grady Harp