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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
The Sisters (2005)

"I wouldn't give you the post-mortem satisfaction."
- Gary Sokol (Eric McCormack)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: June 12, 2006

Stars: Elizabeth Banks, Maria Bello, Erika Christensen
Other Stars: Steven Culp, Tony Goldwyn, Mary Stuart Masterson, Eric McCormack, Alessandro Nivola, Chris O'Donnell, Rip Torn
Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman

MPAA Rating: R for (language and some sexual content)
Run Time: 01h:53m:10s
Release Date: June 13, 2006
UPC: 013137210198
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-AA- C

DVD Review

Maria Bello is an actress on the rise. After appearing in films like Payback and appearing as a regular on ER, Bello enjoyed a breakthrough performance alongside William H. Macy in The Cooler. She found even more success thanks to an Oscar-worthy performance in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Between those two, Bello was featured in the ensemble piece, The Sisters, further proving her versatility.

The Sisters is based on the classic play by Anton Chekhov, The Three Sisters, but writer Richard Alfieri has taken the setting from 1901 Russia to a modern university campus. Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, the story begins at the surprise birthday party of Irene (Erika Christensen), the younger sister of Olga (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Marcia (Bello). Irene is the most down to earth of this literary family, who live in the shadow of their late, domineering father. He's seemingly left his mark on each of his girls, as well as his son, Andrew (Alessandro Nivola). Irene's party brings the family together, along with her fiancée, David (Chris O'Donnell); Marcia's husband, Harry (Steven Culp), whom she despises; and Andrew's obnoxious fiancée, Nancy (Elizabeth Banks). Also attending are university faculty members and friends Dr. Chebrin (Rip Torn), bitter professor Gary Sokol (Eric McCormack), and childhood acquaintance Vincent (Tony Goldwyn), who falls for Marcia. This party also unleashes a series of devastating secrets that, once revealed, will change each one of these sisters exponentially.

This is very much akin to watching a play. The setting is limited almost entirely to one place. Fortunately, the monotonous sets don't drag this excellent film down. Powered by a powerful ensemble that delivers some of their best work to date, The Sisters was sadly dismissed during its limited theatrical run. Chris O'Donnell is the only one who seems to be sleepwalking through his vital, albeit limited role. He's the major part of a key sequence at the end, and if it wasn't for Eric McCormack's strong work, the effectiveness of the finale might have been compromised.

Once we flash-forward in time following a nearly catastrophic event, the storyline shifts dramatically, with the dynamics of each character changing as well. This is where The Sisters really takes off, with Bello particularly commanding our attention in practically every scene. Erika Christensen hasn't been this good since Traffic, proving she's much more than just a pretty young face, and that she truly may be one of our best young actresses. We also see a different side of Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) as he embodies the always angry, sarcastic Sokol with venomous flamboyance. Our initial perception of this character shift completely by the end, and McCormack is to thank for such a smooth transition. Everyone involved is convincing, though, as Alfieri's interweaving tale of family ties and deceit never strays from believability.

A solid ensemble piece is a tough nut to crack, but the people behind The Sisters have done just that, and I'm sure Chekhov would be proud.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is virtually flawless, featuring sharp, detailed images at all times. The color scheme is vivid, and exhibits very natural, realistic fleshtones that only enhance the beauty of the principal actresses. Shadow and black levels are appropriately deep and handled well, especially during the interior faculty club sequences.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There are both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio mixes, but the former has the edge, thanks to a wider dynamic range, and deeper, more aggressive bass. The dialogue on both tracks is crystal clear, and is easily understood, even amid the music cues and sound effects.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Arthur Allan Seidelman and writer Richard Alfieri
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Extras here are the theatrical trailer for the main feature and an audio commentary track with director Arthur Allan Seidelman and writer Richard Alfieri. This pair shows great affection for Chekhov's original material, and goes into great detail on how they adapted the story to make it their own. A lot of love is given to their amazing cast as well, in what amounts to a very easy listen.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

The Sisters is yet another strong, small film to slip through the theatrical cracks, but gets another chance via DVD from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. They've done a fine job, thanks to excellent audio and video transfers and a great audio commentary track.

 


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