The Sisters Brothers is the new Western featuring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as brothers with the last name of Sisters. With that set up, you might think this was a comedic take on the Western genre, but you would be wrong.
Based on a novel by Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers are a pair of assassins who are being sent out by a local figure named The Commodore (Rutger Hauer) after a prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed). Warm has a secret that The Commodore wants.
The narrative of the movie is a little iffy at times. It is a basic Western with most of the traits of one. The story is not the biggest point. The most effective part of the film is the characterization between Eli Sisters (John C. Reilly) and Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix). Their relationship is imminently intriguing and is easily the most interesting part of the film.
John C. Reilly is tremendous here. He brings so much humanity to this role of the older brother. You can see how life has challenged him and how much he is willing to do in order to protect his trouble-making, heavy drinking brother. Eli hopes that he can find his way out of the life of an assassin, but the realization of the truth of his life is difficult to avoid.
The plot with Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal is fine, but really feels as if it is nowhere near as interesting as the Sisters Brothers. There are a lot of things that happen that feel as if it is just tossed into the story so something is happening. There is a scene with a spider that has no purpose for the story or reason to be included. It also had almost zero effect om the narrative.
The other problem is the tone of the film really bounces around too much. The film does not seem to know what type of film it wants to be and many of these tones fight against themselves.
Much of The Sisters Brothers felt unnecessary and the plot was weak. The best of this film was the relationship between the film’s actual brother characters, which included a great performance by John C. Reilly. He is clearly the reason to watch this movie. Phoenix is strong here, but everyone in the cast brings their best when on screen with Reilly.