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DIRECTED BY: Richard Bailey
FEATURING: , Edna Gill, Kristin Colaneri
PLOT: Two sisters reunite by a remote lake some time after a mutually-perpetrated crime.
COMMENTS: Thieves gonna thieve, amiright?
And whether you want him to or not, Richard Bailey is going to make his movies in his own way. Plenty of cryptic—or even patently incomprehensible—films cross our desk here, and we approach each title with an open mind and an eye on purpose. It was only during the final act of The Dark Sisters (and then, only after a politely brazen hint from the filmmaker) that I cottoned on to just what this movie is all about. Bailey is an ideas man, one who has things to say about life and mind, and he is keen to converse with the viewer.
On the surface, The Dark Sisters concerns two sisters attempting to bridge a gulf that has grown between them during intervening years of separation after a grisly experience. Kicking back lakeside for this reunion, things quickly become not what they seem, and even, if I may conjecture briefly, not even what they are. This is a story of two sisters; this is a story of vengeance; this is a story of redeeming the wicked; this is a story of reflections, doubles, synthesis, and the fusion between perception, reality, and memory. And it’s not even really about the sisters, for that matter.
With his poetic-essayical dialogue, lingering shots and scans of a delightful primordial lake, fractured plot structuring, and philosophical musings, Bailey tracks a number of things here. My own takeaway from this methodically furled string of musings and images is that The Dark Sisters is a story about the story—about the act of storytelling, touching on the facets of that that age-old phenomenon and attempting to present this nigh indescribable (and wholly human) pass-time (a designation I use with no sense of flippancy; time is what we have, and pass it we must). Through archetype, rumination, sonic cues, and honey-glazed nature, The Dark Sisters seeks the heart of what occurs when we gather to talk and make sense of ourselves and everything around us.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“In some ways The Dark Sisters reminds me of films like Mickey Reece’s Climate of the Hunter. Things aren’t normal, but they’re not full-blown weird or bizarre either. It’s as though everything simply shifted a few degrees away from what we expect them to be, and we have to figure out why.”–Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony (contemporaneous)