By Deano Peppers
A black comedy drama about an ex goth turned nun… I could have tried to write something clever as an opening line but the description does the job just fine.
“It took God 6 days to create the universe, you should be able to get your act together in 5”
So this is how “Little Sister” begins, Young Colleen has left home to become a nun, while seemingly leaving her old life behind there remains things that she has yet to fully let go of. Her parents who email her constantly despite receiving no replies are become increasingly addicted to “alternative medicine”. And her brother, as well as getting married, has just got out of hospital after being involved in a horrific accident while serving in the army overseas. Unbeknownst to her Reverend mother who tasked her to sort things out in 5 days, God had it easy compared to her.
On paper these elements don’t really scream comedy, but then as unconventional as writer and director’s Zack Clarks story is, the characters certainly match it. The plot is almost a reversal of the rebellious teen trope we’ve seen in movies for decades, although Colleen grew up on a diet of dark metal – she never drank, never did drugs and has pledged to be a virgin till she dies. Her parents on the other hand deal with their demons daily with narcotics. Their latest is the return of Jacob, who after surviving a bomb blast is now looking like he could double for Deadpool and save on prosthetics budget. Colleen is the youngest but also the wisest, she forms the bridge between them all that she hopes will bring them all back together.
Strong performances from all the cast help give the family a reel sense of dysfunctional love between them. Ally Sheedy’s turn as an overbearing and unpredictable mother is countered beautifully by Addison Timlin’s optimistic and introspective Colleen, and this chemistry does help make up for the absence of a big breakthrough moment event, which was the only thing I felt it lacked. The final act while not being anticlimactic, felt a little rushed and a unresolved. But maybe that’s the point, God can create the world in 6 days but we will forever be working to fix ours…. I don’t know. I do know I enjoyed the film however; and while it definitely could have got preachy it never really said there is only one true way you should live your life.
I can’t see this being everyone’s cup of tea, but I hope it does well and would recommend everyone give it a go. Certainly it will play well to those who can relate to being the only sane person in a family of screw ups, marginalized for their musical choices. But others might be expecting a more frantic type of comedy (especially as the trailer and poster do give off a more outlandish vibe) and miss out on the heart underneath the black lipstick, pink hair and pale skin. Really the quote which opens the films sums it up best
“Fail to see the tragic, turn it into magic” – Marilyn Manson