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Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness

Released Mar 27, 1973 1h 32m Drama List
Reviews 82% Audience Score 250+ Ratings
A German career woman (Jutta Lampe) loses a sister (Gudrun Gabriel) and seeks a surrogate (Jessica Früh). Read More Read Less

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Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness

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Critics Reviews

View All (2) Critics Reviews
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat Spirituality & Practice Psychologically involving film that illuminates the thin line between love and manipulation Rated: 3/5 Sep 24, 2005 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Rated: 3/5 Jul 4, 2005 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (4) audience reviews
william k Subtle, complex, but also a bit stiff examination of a sisterly relationship compels mainly through the excellent performances by Jutta Lampe, Gudrun Gabriel and Jessica Früh. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Margarethe von Trotta really stepped up her efforts for her sophomore film, offering smoother visuals, subtler characterizations, and a better sense of pacing. However, I will say that anyone who questions why I like to see director's films in chronological order should note that my experience with this film was greatly sullied by having seen von Trotta's best film, Marianne and Juliane, first. While it's interesting to be able to see von Trotta working her way through similar themes, the parallels between Sisters and M&J really do a disservice to Sisters because almost everything done here is done better in the later film. Well, that might be a disservice because Sisters does have quite a bit to offer. It's essentially a psychodrama about two sisters, one who works under a nice but demanding boss (his catchphrase is: "Order us a snack; it's gonna be a late night) and the younger who is studying for her finals for a degree program of some sort. When the older sister's attentions are distracted by her boss' dreamy son (whose dissertation the boss has convinced our protagonist to type up in her spare time), things get rather desperate, and the highly disfunctional relationship between sisters is revealed. From here, the film really turns into a psychodrama that functions on many of the same levels as the De Palma film of the same name. There's a twist that I'd rather not elaborate on the off-chance that anyone reading may be possessed to see the film, but after the midway point, the worker sister starts to develop a small psychosis of her own that carries the film to an ending that falls somewhere between inspiring and disturbing (I'm still not sure which). Jutta Lampe puts on a great, nuanced performance that really drives the film as much as von Trotta's direction. The emotional transitions here aren't as detailed or realistic as her work in Marianne and Juliane, but the performance is damn fine on its own. Some characters, such as the boss, turn to caricatures here and there, but it functions well enough to allow the central characters to really dive into some deep drama and psychoanalyzing. Some of the material, such as the romantic subplots involving the boss' son and a former yuppie-turned-folk rocker, falls pretty flat, but it's all service to the female bonding/disfunction narrative anyway, so I'm not going to be terribly picky. The depiction of that disfunction is quite frightening though with von Trotta remaining unafraid to show just how damaging these relationships can be. The sexual energy between the sisters in the first half of the film and the subsequent domination that defines the relationship in the second half carries a very distinct thread of upcoming doom. Whether or not the ending resolves it, I haven't figured out yet (I'm leaning toward yes), but the fact that von Trotta and Lampe can so easily shift the narrative and Maria's characterization makes this one a must-see on the level of M&J. **** out've ***** Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member great lighting + it's a good story Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review Audience Member Flickster only lists one perfect Margarethe Von Trotta film but she directed four in a row; The Loat Honour of Katharina Blum (1975), The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (1977) Sisters..(1979) and Marianne and Juliane (1981). See one you want to see all of these classic German films. These are powerfully political movies that tell an intimate story well while exploring the complex nature of relationships between women. Sisters features two successful sisters with destructive sibling rivalry. Von Trotta followed it up with Marianne and Julianne in 1981, in which one of two German sisters is a terrorist. In all four of the films mentioned above sbe tells a straightforward story while exploring the nature of women's relationships more seriously than any other director of the time period. The films hold up well, resonating for years after viewing. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/20/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness

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Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis A German career woman (Jutta Lampe) loses a sister (Gudrun Gabriel) and seeks a surrogate (Jessica Früh).
Director
Margarethe von Trotta
Screenwriter
Margarethe von Trotta, Luisa Francia, Martje Grohmann
Distributor
American International Pictures, Criterion Collection, Roadshow Home Video [au], National Broadcasting Company, Warner Home Vídeo
Genre
Drama
Original Language
German
Release Date (Theaters)
Mar 27, 1973, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Aug 25, 2018
Runtime
1h 32m
Sound Mix
Mono
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