Ursula Meier's Sister is a Dardenne-lite drama about a 12-year-old boy's efforts to support himself and his older sister by stealing gear at a Swiss ski resort. Hustling is a profession for Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein), a delinquent kleptomaniac entrepreneur who peddles hot skis, gloves, and masks to kids and adults alike with the wheeler-dealer confidence and caginess of an old pro. He toils for the love of sibling Louise (Léa Seydoux), a hot mess whom others assume is a whore and who can't hold a job or resist hooking up with her abusive boyfriend. Meier uses a stripped-down, naturalistic aesthetic full of well-organized compositions that pay close attention to shifts in character mood, comportment, and behavior. Her eerily silent soundscape adds to a mood of lost souls trying to maintain balance on a dangerous precipice. A midpoint revelation hits hard, even though it's subtly telegraphed beforehand by a look of piercing desperation from Simon to a skiing mother (Gillian Anderson) and leads to a conclusion of tumultuous disarray (and tentative, qualified hope) that makes clear that resentment and anger only breed more of the same--and, worse still, solitude.
Klein and Seydoux, headed downhill?
Opens Fri., Nov. 2 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Not rated. 97 minutes.