Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

‘My Sister, My Love’. Even the very title is repulsive to me. ‘My Sister, My Love’. A friend of mine recommended this movie to me as he thought it was beautiful, insightful and dramatic… but damn, it’s about a dude who’s sharing love with his freaking sister! I have a sister and I love my sister but I’m certain not in love with the girl. In fact I’d rather be gang raped by a pissed off battalion of Klu Klux Klan members wearing razor studded condoms than accidentally brush up against my sister. So recognizing that I’m totally opposed to incestual love, particularly considering that there’s a whole planet worth of people out there to love who we aren’t directly related to, Hiroshi Ando’s film is playing to a mighty tough audience of one over here.

Yori (Jun Matsumoto) and Iku (Nana Eikura) are fraternal twins (obviously) in their final year of secondary school. As children they were really close but as time has passed the two, Yori in particular, have drifted apart. As Iku narrates, Yori is the gifted one with the bright future while Iku struggles, though she was born tall and pretty which I have found is always a good equalizer. Yori has a best friend in Yano (Yuta Hiraoka) who is putting the full court press on his sister in his attempts to make her his girl, though Iku is unsure if this is the route she wants to take. Iku confides in her brother one night, since the pair share a bedroom in their small apartment with their widowed mother, that she is unsure if she wants to be Iku’s girlfriend, but Yori offers absolutely no insight as to what she should do.

The reason for Yori’s reticence in dispensing love advice to his sister, as he would confide in her one fateful night, is that he is and always has been in love with her. Iku at first, not being the brightest bulb in the box, doesn’t quite know how to take her brother’s love confession but then figures ‘what the hell’ as she decides she loves him as well leading to what I’m guessing is a night of passion. Now mom (Yuko Asano) has some concerns about the relationship between her twins as she goes to make the beds and finds only one has been slept in, but I don’t believe in her wildest fears she could have guessed what was actually going on.

Like star crossed lovers, the pair steal kisses wherever they can, like in empty classrooms and such, but making out with your sister does have its ramifications. So there’s a girl in school named Tomoka (Ayaka Kamatsu) who catches Yori and Uki making out, plus she has terrible crush on Yori and more or less blackmails him into becoming his girlfriend, not to mention Yano who has also found out that brother and sister are sharing love and does what he can to urge his friend that said behavior can lead to absolutely nowhere but complete ruin. Complicating matters also seems to be that Yano has a terrible man crush on Yori. Now unless there’s someplace the pair can move to where brother / sister love is embraced, this relationship is pretty much doomed from the start with the question being will they realize this before it’s too late.

If a movie centered around a love affair between a brother and sister can be tastefully presented, director Hiroshi Ando has managed to pull it off. There’s nothing remotely salacious or lascivious about ‘My Sister, My Love’ since there’s no nudity, no sex and only a little bit of necking here and there. This doesn’t mean that the film was any easier to watch or that the subject matter was any more palatable, but it does seem that director Ando fully recognized the sensitivity of the subject matter and handled it accordingly. Now this isn’t a story that director just dreamed up since it is based on a popular manga loosely translated into ‘I love my Little Sister’ (oh you wacky Japanese) which in turn was turned into an anime. From what I’ve heard and read both of the animated versions are more explicit than the live action film and I think it was a wise decision for Ando to make his version as tame as humanly possible, while still retaining the fact that Yori and Iku do share a powerful loving relationship, no matter how freaking wrong it may be.

The movie itself was slow in a few spots and it did tend to drag a bit, though the performances by young stars Matsumoto and Eikura were solid. It also probably helped sell the fact on their relationship as man and woman and opposed to brother and sister by the fact the pair has almost no resemblance to each other, but the pair are also good enough actors to sell us on their relationships as brother and sister as well, though not a lot substance was given to why Yori felt such a strong relationship to his sister, other than he’s always felt that way, and even less given to why Iku coalesced so easily to her brothers request.

Yes watching ‘My Sister My Love’ was a bit uneasy and it did make you queasy at times but it was handled as tastefully as possible, which probably took some of the edge away from the movie and made it easier to watch, but I’m afraid this also made it much slower and plodding than probably necessary. Not a bad film by any stretch due to the good performances and high production values but it suffers greatly by not committing itself completely to it’s controversial subject matter which we are somewhat grateful for, but the director’s job is really to make a good movie and not to avoid making me feel uncomfortable.

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