SXSW Film Review: Little Sister

Film is a deft mix of humor and melancholy

A high-concept study in faith made blasphemous with toxic humor, Little Sister is the new film from director Zach Clark.

Clark, who edited and co-wrote with Melodie Sisk, operates within stylistic parameters established on one end by John Waters and on the other by his executive producer, Joe Swanberg. Ultimately, this combination of influences adds up to one of the Fest’s most idiosyncratic and emotionally pockmarked offering.

Addison Timlin is Colleen Lunsford, an externally meek East Coast nun. She returns home from the oppressive convent to the best-cast family I’ve seen in quite a while, including Ally Sheedy as her depressive mother Joani, and indie stalwart Keith Poulson as her discharged veteran brother. Their performances are warm, rude, and rich across the board, but Clark’s masterstroke is using Pete Hedges, a director of great sincerity, as the pot-loving patriarch, Bill.

This is because Clark, whose previous feature White Reindeer played SXSW in 2014, displays among the most sensitive touches of any independent filmmaker at work today. As in the films of Hedges, James C. Strouse, or Swanberg himself. Little Sister plays up its goofiness to prevent your being poisoned with melancholy – which the characters unanimously exhibit. Cynics among us will recognize this as a lovely comedy; but the cockeyed may consider it miserable.

Little Sister

Visions, World Premiere
Monday, March 14, 1:15pm, Alamo South Lamar
Thursday, March 17, 10:30pm, Alamo South Lamar

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