Rosemarie DeWitt is a face you probably recognize. She’s popped up in television shows, indie films, and has a background in New York theatre.
Your Sister’s Sister is a comedy (comedy-drama) and for a film with a female relationship in the name, it starts off a bit confusingly, centering around a guy, Jack (Mark Duplass) who is still mourning the death of his brother. Iris (Emily Blunt), Jack’s brother’s old girlfriend, is tired of seeing him feel sorry for himself and sends him off to her dad’s lake house. When Jack arrives, he realizes Iris’s sister, Hannah (DeWitt) had the same idea.
While some are not a fan of Shelton’s meandering style, it somehow is perfectly suited for her films. The long silences and quiet moments are true to real life, as well as heart-wrenching truths about ourselves. Exploring and observing the Washington scenery and wilderness plays a big part in Your Sister’s Sister, but also truly suits the mood of the piece. Jack is supposed to be mourning and rediscovering himself in these beautiful surroundings and the visual montages allow viewers to truly immerse themselves in the setting.
The subtlety of the acting–especially DeWitt’s expressive and imminently watchable face–is underrated as well. The performances prick an emotional vain, especially for those who have a close sister or brotherly bond in their own lives.
Touchy Feely, a family drama becomes–much like Your Sister’s Sister–a film about healing. The characters are a bit more outlandish and New Age-y. DeWitt plays Abby, a massage therapist (with pink streaks in her hair), who decides to move in with her bicycle shop owner boyfriend Jesse. Abby’s brother, Paul, is the polar opposite of his sister. He’s an uptight dentist who keeps a tight leash on his daughter Jenny (Ellen Page.) A Reiki specialist, Bronwyn (Allison Janney) owns the space above Abby’s studio and who not only works on Abby’s energies but dispenses advice.
When Abby develops a phobia of touching other people–not exactly good news for a massage therapist–she goes on a personal journey to find herself without her sense of touch. While DeWitt makes the character’s emotional journey compelling, critics have sited the characters as hard to read thus creating a film which is inscrutable. It seems quite the opposite, however. Shelton has created a cast of characters, who while they may not spout their backstories in the opening scenes of the film, come across as imminently relatable. They could be your friends or family. Shelton’s cinematic style, pace, and casting is comforting, even though her characters are frequently dealing with deep, sometimes dark, emotional journeys.
DeWitt is a cornerstone in both films. She’s able to be emotionally open and authentic, someone you want to get to know. Her smile is easy but her face can just as quickly portray such sadness. Her work with Shelton seems to have hit upon one of those illusive creative collaborations which sings. Funnily enough, DeWitt wasn’t originally set for Your Sister’s Sister. Rachel Weisz was cast in the role as Emily Blunt’s older sister, but when she dropped out, the role went to DeWitt.
Although Shelton has directed only two films featuring DeWitt, hopefully the pair will become as inseparable as Catherine Keener and director Nicole Holofcener. Keener has been in all five of Holofcener’s films.
DeWitt’s television work has spanned from recurring roles in Mad Men (as bohemian Village-dwelling artist Midge, paramour to Don Draper) to series regular as Toni Collette’s sister Charmaine in the underrated Showtime series United States of Tara. Even prior to Mad Men and Tara, she starred in Fox drama, Standoff, where she played one half of a crisis negotiation team opposite Ron Livingston. While the show was mostly another procedural, DeWitt’s performance as Emily Lehman seemed effortless. The emotion in DeWitt is so ever-present and available, it’s easy for the audience to buy her in a variety of situations (and a variety of roles, as her body of work seems to indicate.) Fox didn’t find the show to be pulling its weight in the ratings and cancelled the series after only one season. Livingston and DeWitt continued their on-screen relationship off-screen. They married in 2009.
Recently, in addition to her roles in Shelton’s films, DeWitt appeared as the charming love interest or girlfriend/wife in a number of films, including The Company Men with Ben Affleck, Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
Even prior to that, she was part of the cast of the Jonathan Demme film, Rachel Getting Married. Although she played the title character, Rachel, the film centered around Rachel’s sister, Kym (Anne Hathaway) returning home from rehab for a weekend for her Rachel’s wedding. The film played at both Venice and Toronto film festivals and received critical acclaim.
- EW Movie Review: “Touchy Feely” (manhattan.ny1.com)
- Secretive siblings: Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt hush-hush on ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ – FIRST LOOK (insidemovies.ew.com)
- Writer/Director Lynn Shelton Talks TOUCHY FEELY, Her First Multi-Million Dollar Feature LAGGIES, and Why She Loves Working in Television (collider.com)