Sisters. Film Review

Director: Brian De Palma
Screenplay: Brian De Palma, Louisa Rose
Starring: Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, William Finley
Running Time: 92 Min
Certificate: 15
Format: Blu-ray/DVD dual edition
Reviewed by Guy Adams

During the early part of his career, De Palma mainly produced comedies (launching the career of Robert De Niro in 1968’s GREETINGS) but with 1973’s SISTERS he finally found the genre that would go on to define him, the thriller.

Often accused of imitating Hitchcock, that’s never more evident than here, with journalist Grace Collier (Salt) looking out of her window to witness a murder taking place in the apartment opposite hers. She calls the police but they don’t believe her and, while she fights to convince them De Palma uses split-screen to show the evidence being disposed of, Collier’s proof vanishing with every delayed moment.

The apartment belongs to Danielle Breton (Kidder) one of a pair of recently separated conjoined twins and, once the police are thoroughly convinced Collier has imagined the whole affair, she’s forced to investigate on her own.

If the Hitchock homages are blatant (he even dragged Bernard Herrmann out of semi-retirement to compose the score) they are also to the film’s benefit as the tight, witty and ultimately horrifying plot shows De Palma at his absolute best. If it’s an impression of another filmmaker, it’s a terribly convincing one and his cast play the thing to the hilt. Kidder is a revelation as both Bretons, Jennifer Salt is the perfect Hitchock heroine (certainly when sparring with her disapproving mother) and nobody looms like William Finley, a myopic John Waters wit a medical degree.

Arrow’s disc offers a beautiful HD presentation of the film alongside a ‘visual essay’ (a documentary feature using stills and a voice over) from Justin Humphreys; new interviews with co-writer Louisa Rose, Jennifer Salt, editor Paul Hirsch and unit manager Jeffrey Hayes; a film-by-film guide to De Palma from critic Mike Sutton; an archive audio interview from William Finley; the trailer and a gallery of promotional artwork. The booklet features an essay from Kier-La Janisse plus an interview with and contemporaneous essay from De Palma, the latter originally written for the Village Voice discussing working with Herrmann.