If you would like to read our earlier review of The Sisters Brothers, click here. This may technically be the third review of the film on this site but it will be a different one, I assure you.
Synopsis: In the Old West, an Oregon criminal known as the Commodore sends gunslinging brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters to find and kill chemist Hermann Warm and retrieve his money making formula. Complications soon arise when John Morris, a detective who is supposed to help the siblings, joins forces with Hermann for a business venture. (Annapurna Pictures)
Starring: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jake Gyllenhaal
Writers: Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain
Director: Jacques Audiard
Rating: R (United States)
Running Time: 121mins
Now who would have thought that this would be the film to put the likes of Joaquin Phoenix and Jake Gyllenhaal together for the first time? Unfortunately, it was unable to fully utilize their talents, let alone the rest of the cast. On the surface, the film may seem like a western though in reality, it was mostly a character study that would get lost in the shuffle due to an incredibly messy narrative and bad pacing. Considering the pieces that were here, the film definitely had potential but the film failed to put them all together in a satisfying way.
The story here was about a pair of gunslinging brothers named Eli (Reilly) and Charlie (Phoenix) Sisters. Called on a mission by a criminal known as The Commodore (Rutger Hauer) to kill a chemist named Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed) and retrieve his money making formula, the brothers would encounter complications when a detective tasked to find him named John Morris (Gyllenhaal) decides to go to business with Warm. From there, the story would go in so many directions between following the brothers and following Morris and Warm. At not point did the characters get enough development to ever care about them or their motivations.
A problem that arose fairly early on was how dull the film was. Very little happened for the longest time so it became easy to lose interest. As the brothers squabbled on their way to Morris and Warm over their somewhat interesting yet vague backstory and the fact that their way of life was coming to an end, Warm was trying to save himself by convincing Morris to go to business with him. The brothers would encounter various setbacks along the way which would always seem to put them a step behind but it was clear that they would inevitably catch up to one another. Ultimately, the best part of the film was when the four of them were together though not by much. However, it was over far too quickly and was only the middle third of the film so it still had to wrap back around to the first third.
Despite everything else, there were still a few positives here, the cinematography and the performances all around. The cinematography was excellent with plenty of beautiful vistas to behold as well as some great nighttime gun battles. The performances kept things somewhat compelling to watch despite the arguably underdeveloped characters. The chemistry between Reilly and Phoenix as Eli and Charlie Sisters was great but neither of them had that much to do. It was a shame that they were not given a more exciting adventure. Though Gyllenhaal always felt out of place, he was okay and he took his Nightcrawler chemistry with Ahmed who was also okay and somewhat compelling to watch with Gyllenhaal.
Overall, this was a decent western that took way too long to get going, was very dull at times, badly paced, and a narrative mess. It may have been beautiful to look at and at least the performances kept it interesting but it never seemed to know where it wanted to go. Though some may find more enjoyment out of it, the film won’t be for everyone and was definitely a disappointment considering all those involved.