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Shared childhood trauma puts sibling loyalty to the test in Adam Christian Clark‘s Caroline and Jackie. A slightly extreme scenario hinging on a “you’re an anorexic” intervention exposes a wholly believable dynamic between two sisters (Marguerite Moreau and Bitsie Tulloch) who’ve never agreed about which is taking care of the other. Their relationship will ring true for many viewers, and Clark’s intelligent handling of it should elicit good word-of-mouth at arthouses.
Jackie (Tulloch) has prepared a special meal for her sister Caroline’s birthday, but Caroline (Moreau) has different plans. She and Jackie’s boyfriend Ryan (David Giuntoli) have gathered friends together to say how worried they are about Jackie’s anorexia and substance-abuse problems. The encounter goes worse even than one would expect of such an occasion, with the interven-ee stomping out into the night; strangely, the interven-er is a little too comfortable with the outburst, making herself at home in her sister’s house and fussily playing hostess for friends as if this were an ordinary party.
Viewers will suspect from early on that things aren’t as straightforward as they appear, and Clark’s screenplay addresses those suspicions only to the extent it must to justify its characters’ behavior. Much of the truth is conveyed in the two leads’ performances, both of them itchy and disagreeable in the manner of someone trying to prevent a too-familiar conflict from bubbling up again.
Though the screenplay stretches quite a bit by suggesting a complete stranger would be welcome at the intervention (he’s the new boyfriend of a close friend played by Valerie Azlynn), the supporting cast responds well to the unsettled environment, conducting themselves with a level-headedness that further isolates the sisters and makes the script’s resolution, however surprising it is in the moment, seem inevitable in retrospect. Sensitive lensing by Clark and DP Christian Swegal, together with Lisbeth Scott‘s introspective piano score, help the film avoid stridency as it goes places that invite overheated confrontation.
Production Company: Blueberry Films
Cast: Marguerite Moreau, Bitsie Tulloch, David Giuntoli, Valerie Azlynn, Jason Gray-Stanford, David Fuit
Director-Screenwriter: Adam Christian Clark
Producer: Adam Hendricks
Executive producer: Ruth Surrey
Director of photography: Christian Swegal
Production designer: Alan Farkas
Music: Lisbeth Scott
Costume designer: Jennifer Giersbrook
Editor: Adam Christian Clark, Lisa Hendricks
No rating, 84 minutes
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