Me and My Sister, 2004

In an early episode of Me and My Sister, the younger sister Louise (Catherine Frot), having been picked up from the train station and driven home by her older sister, Martine (Isabelle Huppert), discovers her manuscript haphazardly tossed in the trunk of her sister’s car as she retrieves her luggage, yet says nothing about the apparent slight to the culmination of her dedicated hard work. It is an episode that speaks volumes on the nature of the relationship of the siblings. Rejected by their alcoholic mother and forced to lead independent lives at an early age, the pragmatic and sensible Martine has consciously worked to shed her provinciality and cultivate an air of sophistication and bourgeois respectability in Paris while the fanciful and quirky Louise remained in Le Mans to lead a humble life as a beautician and aspiring writer. However, Martine’s seemingly comfortable, lush life is also far from ideal. Trapped in a passionless marriage yet bound to the social comfortability afforded by her husband’s success, Martine has become increasingly exacting and hardened to the people around her, and invariably, Louise’s unpolished manners, idiosyncrasies, and interminably bubbly personality quickly begin to fray her carefully cultivated social decorum. Alexandra Leclère’s film is a slight, yet charming, admirable, and effervescent comedy on manners, sibling rivalry, and the unbreakable bonds of family. By examining Louise and Martine’s lives through the reflective prism of their interactions with each other, Leclère also creates an insightful social allegory for elitism, classism, denial of roots, and cosmopolitan arrogance.

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