His job: picking pockets, stealing boots and backpacks, taking money and sandwiches from vacationers, and bringing his bounty back to the apartment in a public housing high-rise that he shares with his older sister (Lea Seydoux). That’s how they get by, he and Louise: He’ll hawk his wares, pocket the cash, share the food. As for Louise, she’ll go off on dates with guys who pull up in cars, returning late in the night, or the next day.
Beautifully observed, and with a riveting and unstudied performance from Klein, “Sister” tracks its little thief as he prowls for loot – and crosses paths with strangers who hold out the possibility of friendship, of family. There’s a British cook (Martin Compston) working in one of the ski resort’s restaurants, who aids and abets Simon, and there is a well-to-do mother (a memorable turn from Gillian Anderson), there with her two kids, enjoying the snow and sun. Simon, changing his name and his backstory, insinuates himself into her world.
Simon and Louise are like lost children from some old fable. They share a sense of isolation, an unspoken acknowledgment that life is moving apart from them. And they share something else unspoken as well.
“Sister,” the official Swiss entry in the Oscar competition for foreign language film (it’s in French), is haunting and sad. And absolutely worth seeing. ‘SISTER’
H H H 1/2 I
Cast: Kacey Mottet Klein, Lea Seydoux, Gillian Anderson, Martin Compston
Director: Ursula Meier
Running time: 1:44
Rated: No rating; profanity, violence, adult themes. In French with English subtitles.