The Other Sister (1999)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB

USA, 1999.  Mandeville Films, Touchstone Pictures.  Story by , , Garry Marshall, , Screenplay by Garry Marshall, Bob Brunner.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by . Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Juliette Lewis‘ heartfelt performance adds much gravity to this sudsy comedy-drama by schlockmeister Garry Marshall. She plays the mentally challenged daughter of Diane Keaton and  who has spent most of her life in a posh institution and has now finally grown up and returned home to live with her family. The joke of it here is that at the time of her return, Lewis and the extra care required for her is the least of Keaton’s problems: her one daughter is getting married in a very complicated and stress-inducing wedding ceremony, her other daughter is a workaholic lesbian and Keaton is very uncomfortable about both. Lewis strikes up a romance with like-minded , a relationship her mother doesn’t approve of but one she fights for all the same, along with her own place to live, a high school diploma and a career to follow that. The film’s argument, that the mentally challenged get too little respect from their surrounding communities and should be treated equally as people with their own lives to run, is a righteous and well-addressed one;  the problem is that Lewis’ character needs so little help and is so very not slow in any way that it seems the only thing indicating her mental handicap is the way she talks and the fact that she is really nice.  Her heart is in the performance thoroughly and makes the film as good as it is, which also features Marshall’s good friend and film mainstay Hector Elizondo.

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