It isn’t every day where one allows a feature film to be carried by such young and inexperienced talent. Having worked with director Ursula Meier before on her first film Home, Kacey Mottet Klein seemed the obvious choice to play Simon. His ability to embrace and thus embody a role, like he did so eloquently in Home, is further witnessed in Meier’s latest offering Sister.
The story follows 12-year-old Simon and older sister Louise (Lea Seydoux) as they struggle to hold together a life at the bottom of a large ski resort in the Swiss Alps. In order to afford “pasta and toilet roll”, as he states bluntly, Simon travels up to the slopes daily to steal skiing equipment so he can eventually sell it to his friends who live in the town below. After befriending a cook working at the resort (Martin Compston) and agreeing to sell his items on to him, things go from bad to worse as Simon attempts to keep his illegal business secret, while, at the same time, attempting to keep his wayward sister on the straight and narrow…
In the production notes, Meier explains that a key aspect of the film is highlighting the juxtaposition between the affluent world of the ski resort to the abstract and difficult poverty that suffers the town at the foot of the mountain. She does this incredibly well. The unnatural independence that Simon portrays shows the lengths he has had to go to, to allow him and his sister to have a life. The majority of scenes envelop a sense of claustrophobia. Even though the film is set in the spacious setting of the Alps, we see Simon eating his lunch in a small toilet cubicle and sleeping in a small apartment, which he shares with Louise – these choices of shots tells us of an ordered lifestyle which has very little room for manoeuvre.
We can do nothing but sympathise with Simon, as the unfairness of his life is quickly made evident to us. His acts of theft are, to some degree, brushed aside and instead, we are asked to concentrate on the relationship between Simon and Louise. It is fractious, to say the least, and as the film draws closer to its twist, the “big reveal” is slightly unsatisfying because of this.
A valiant effort from young talent. Sister is a nice little film that illustrates some thoughtful points on the wealth divide that many of us witness, but choose to ignore every day.
Sister is released in selected cinemas on 26th October 2012.
Watch the trailer for Sister here: