The audience is introduced to 12-year-old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) as we follow him, face obscured by ski gear, through his daily routine at an opulent ski resort in the Swiss Alps. Wading unnoticed through the crowds of wealthy tourists, he brazenly swipes skis, goggles, backpacks and anything else of worth that he can sell to make a living for himself and his listless older sister, Louise (Lea Seydoux).
Their reality, living in a public housing block at the base of the mountain, is in stark contrast to the lives of the tourists from which Simon pilfers. With no parents in sight and his sister’s propensity to disappear for days at a time Simon’s loneliness and desire for a family is palpable. This is epitomised through his chance interaction with a wealthy English tourist played by Gillian Anderson of X Files fame. When she, unlike the other holidaymakers, actually acknowledges Simon’s existence, he desperately tries to gain her love the only way he knows how – through money.
Simon’s resulting rejection leads him to grow spiteful of his sister who he blames for his dismal family environment. Consequently, he maliciously reveals the true nature of their relationship to her current boyfriend. This causes a divide between the siblings while also revealing the captivating events that have resulted in their current circumstances.
This is the second feature from French-Swiss screenwriter, actress and director Ursula Meier. With mesmerising performances from both leads and tantalising cinematography, Sister was awarded the Silver Bear by the Mike Leigh led jury at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival. It’s not the easiest film to watch, but remains an intriguing and powerful tale of two people trying to find their place in an often unjust world.
BY LEE HUTCHISON
Sister is in cinemas now.