While Sundance is best known for movies that sell for millions and stir up controversial topics, most of the movies are simple, well-written, well-acted films that are solid, but often get lost in the mix. Lynn Shelton‘s follow-up to Humpday, called Your Sister’s Sister, is one of those movies. Another is GOATS, the debut feature of Christopher Neil.

Your Sister’s Sister features Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as estranged sisters Iris and Hannah who end up at their family’s old cabin when Iris’ best friend Jack (Mark Duplass) heads there to get over the one-year anniversary of the death of his brother. The three characters then develop what I’d like to call a “love triangle” but is more like a “love right angle” that flirts on and off with adding that third line.

GOATS stars David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga and Ty Burrell as the parental figures of a young teenager named Eliis, played by Graham Phillips. Ellis lives a care-free, hippie lifestyle in Arizona with his mom (Farmiga) and her groundskeeper named Goat Man (Duchovny) but when he decides to go back east to the prep school run by his estranged father (Burrell), he finds himself torn between two very different set of parental ideals.

Read more about both movies after the jump.

The chemistry between Blunt, DeWitt and Duplass elevates Your Sister’s Sister from a simple love story to something more. Their characters are all flawed, but equally likable and as their relationships get increasing complicated, you can’t help but pull for all of them.

Shelton’s script provides laughs and drama that go hand in hand with human longing and idealism. Plus, unlike your average “romantic comedy,” Your Sister’s Sister isn’t all straight-forward and predictable. It’s more along the lines of real life where not everything is black and white. The film doesn’t elicit any kind of deep-seated emotion, but it does provide the simple enjoyment of spending 90 minutes with three well-rounded characters.

/Film rating – 7 out of 10

The biggest problem with GOATS is that it’s never quite sure what it wants to be. Is it a movie about a boy being torn between two sets of parents? Is it about the boy’s right of passage? Is the Arizona storyline more interesting or the East Coast one? Each of these questions could have been the subject of their own movie, yet Mark Jude Poirier‘s adaptation of his own book feels like there’s too much stuffed in there.

Fortunately for the film all of these stands, while not exactly complimentary, are warm and enriching. Even though he has the most ‘normal’ role, Ty Burrell steals the movie from Vera Farmiga and David Duchovny, both of whom have huge, showy, fun roles. They’re both having a great time, but Burrell kills it. Then there’s Phillips, who is so magnetic he somehow ties all the movie’s loose ends together.

GOATS has its problems and ultimately feels like a pretty standard independent film, but it has more heart than a lot of what’s out there.

/Film rating – 6.5 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.

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