My Little Sister

The German title for this film Schwesterlein, with its diminutive form communicating love, is so much more meaningful than the bland My Little Sister. All the more so in the opening sequence with Sven (Lars Eidinger), just recovering from a bone marrow transplant, listening to Brahms’ soppy song ‘Schwesterlein’ through his headphones. Lisa (Nina Hoss), his twin and donor, comes to the rescue and does indeed take him ‘nach Haus’. As a German speaker I found the understated dialogue so much more fulfilling than the subtitles.

Notwithstanding, this is a superb Swiss-made film (writer/directors Véronique Reymond and Stéphanie Chuat) about the bonds between siblings. Lisa, suffering from writers’ block, is determined to save her brilliant brother, and restore him to the stage from which he has been so cruelly ousted by his disease. The path to his resurrection takes us, via their chaotic alcoholic mother’s Berlin apartment, to Leysin, where Lisa’s husband (Jens Albinus) is headmaster of an exclusive school (loved all the Swiss mountain scenery) and where Sven’s blue wigs and outrageous behaviour cause maximum disruption to an already unhappy marriage.

But will Lisa’s devotion to Sven and be enough to save him? As he declines she becomes increasingly obsessed to the point of insanity, and it begs the question of whether she’s seeking redemption for herself or for him. It’s both gripping and understated and well worth a peek. Available on Curzon Home Cinema as well as on the big screen.

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