There are no good guys in the wild west and the Sisters Brothers are no exception; watch as John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix kill people without repercussions in their hunt for a chemist with a formula for finding gold.
The Sisters Brothers is quality western fare, and while the opening scene sets off the wrong idea over how much shooting and energy there will actually end up being, the film holds attention with an unexpected storyline and a compelling dynamic between the brothers. Some of the more experimental camera shots the film chooses to take don’t pan out, but we still get that gorgeous scenery we hope to see in westerns. Joaquin Phoenix is a drunkard, Jake Gyllenhaal could’ve been more used, but John C. Reilly stands out – he is the one who puts the movie over his shoulders the most. Despite being better known for comedy, Reilly plays the more responsible of the brothers, and succeeds here in more serious acting. Despite having vile blood and a confident trigger finger, Reilly is able to push that aside and present his character with a soft heart whilst remaining an intimidating force when necessary.
The humor is subtle, and the score drives transition, but there’s a major tone shift in the final act – it only lasts ten minutes or so, but it sure does turn the film upside down; the film goes from a dark comedy to just depressing. It was like the ending of Hostiles, but Hostiles was depressing the whole way through, so it wasn’t as surprising. After the brief stint of melancholia, the film returns tonally to where it had been for most of its runtime and features some more running and gunning before a quiet ending.
The Sisters Brothers could’ve been something great, but was only very good. After revisiting the trailer, I believe the Coen brothers would’ve been fitting candidates for directing this movie. Alas, we cannot get everything we want. 8/10