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“The Sisters Brothers” spins a unique Western yarn

It’s shaping up to potentially be a really good year for John C. Reilly, which is never a bad thing. The talented actor is usually known for his comedic turns, though 2018 has marked a pair of more serious (though still amusing) outings sticking out on his resume. This week, hot on the heels of Stan & Ollie showcasing him in an outstanding Trailer, his western The Sisters Brothers hits theaters. It’s a really interesting film, one that turns the western on its ear. Reilly is tremendously good too, turning in some of the best work of his career so far (more on this later). 2018 may well turn out to be Reilly’s year, before all is said and done.

The movie is, of course, a western, as you might imagine. Set in Oregon during the 1850’s, it has a very traditional set up, though that’s not how it turns out. The synopsis for the flick is as follows: “Based on Patrick DeWitt’s novel, The Sisters Brothers revolves around the colourfully named gold prospector Hermann Kermit Warm, who’s being pursued across 1000 miles of 1850s Oregon desert to San Francisco by the notorious assassins Eli and Charlie Sisters. Except Eli is having a personal crisis and beginning to doubt the longevity of his chosen career. And Hermann might have a better offer.” To catch Hermann (Riz Ahmed), Eli (Reilly) and Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix) are hired by John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal). All four end up dealing with this in unexpected ways. The less said, the better, as it’s so compelling to discover on your own. Jacques Audiard directs and co-writes with Thomas Bidegain, adapting DeWitt’s novel. In addition to the central quartet, the cast also includes Rutger Hauer, Carol Kane, Rebecca Root, Allison Tolman, and more. Alexandre Desplat provides the score here, while the cinematography is by Benoît Debie. Reilly also produces here, showing the stake he has in the material.

Not only is Reilly really great in the film, Audiard directs the hell out of it. The two of them deliver the most impressive work. Reilly brings a playfulness to a role that could have been too broad in other hands. Phoenix is solid too, paired really well with Reilly. Ahmed and Gyllenhaal are very good as well, just a part of a slightly less interesting subplot. The film is at its best when focused on the brothers. They have a sibling type of chemistry, which is essential here. The movie is a little on the long side, but that’s a small complaint. This is really strong stuff.

This is how I would rank Reilly’s ten best performances to date, in case you were curious:

10. The Good Girl
9. Cyrus
8. Step Brothers
7. Hard Eight
6. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
5. Gangs of New York
4. Boogie Nights
3. The Sisters Brothers
2. Magnolia
1. Chicago

Honorable Mention: The Hours, The Lobster, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Terri, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Wreck It Ralph, and Year of the Dog

This weekend, audiences and Reilly fans are in for a treat when The Sisters Brothers opens. The movie is a lot of fun, while also having a wonderful bit of melancholy to it. There’s something unique here. Reilly is best in show, but everyone does top notch work. Reilly just also is a producer here, so he’s got an added vested interest. In fact, last night I attended an event with Reilly, and he really is out there charming voters and selling the flick. Rightly so, too. He deserves anything that comes his way this year. In any event, the film is well worth seeing. Give it a shot and see what you think…

Be sure to check out Reilly and company in The Sisters Brothers, in theaters now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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