Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) is a smart beyond his years, and that is not necessarily a good thing. The twelve-year-old lives in a low-income rise high that stands lonely at the bottom of the Swiss Alps, due south of a luxurious ski resort. Simon is a great thief, an art he has mastered out of necessity. The younger brother of Louise (Léa Seydoux), an irresponsible twenty-something blonde with a weakness for booze and partying, Simon is the responsible one, “earning” money for food and a place to live. Doing more than his party to make sure they survive.
Life becomes easier for a short time. Simon carves out a convenient partnership with a cook (Martin Compston) who has no problem selling the skis that Simon steals for his own profit. Simon finds an eager and steady, albeit temperamental clientele in the resorts ski instructors camped out in a crowded bunkhouse for the season. Simon also insinuates himself into the company of a vacationing mother (Gillian Anderson) and her two children, claiming that his parents, hotel owners, are too busy for him.
Business is good and Sister is happy. The struggling orphans are doing well, until Louise’s latest boyfriend seems to be getting serious. Because she has lied and said that Simon lives with their parents, it is clear that the new beau is looking forward to the time when Simon won’t be around anymore; leading Simon into an act of childish desperation that sends the siblings new found stability into a tailspin.
I really enjoyed this film. This is a character study that I can get behind. There is no absence of struggle for these characters, personally and externally from the world. Simon struggles to be a man for Louise, despite the fact that he is only a boy with a child’s resources. He’s protective like a father, but also spiteful and jealous like a child, navigating a complex relationship with the adult child in Louise. These characters know they are trapped in their misery but struggle to escape it. They really try to live and be better, to change, but both their circumstances and their own personal flaws prevent them from elevating to a better life.
Finally, the last scene of this film is what made me fall in love with Sister. Amidst a story riddled with despair, writers Antoine Jaccoud & Ursula Meier deliver the message of this film in one power shot. Likewise, Director Meier does a brilliant job of modulating the love/hate relationship between the two characters: it’s painful and bittersweet and richly compelling. Well Done.
I hesitate at giving accolades to children for their performance as children, Kacey Mottet Klein was truly great. His presence and handle of the material was impressive for an actor of any age. His chemistry with actress Léa Seydoux’s was delightfully rare and heartbreakingly truthful. Well Done.