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VIFF 2014 review – Beloved Sisters

Tuesday 07th, October 2014 / 17:47
By Paris Spence-Lang

A threesome for the ages

VANCOUVER — After a viewing of Oscar-nominated Beloved Sisters, you will not be able to stand. This is in part because you’ll have been sitting for three hours, but it is mostly because of this movie’s debilitating beauty. Director Dominik Graf has created an intricate period piece full of costumes and candelabras, servants and stagecoaches, but this is merely backdrop to one of the most powerful love stories ever told.

Beloved Sisters is based on the true story of writer Friedrich Schiller and his ménage à trois with Charlotte and Caroline Lengefeld. Set in late-18th century Germany, the film depicts every intimate detail of the romance. Charlotte, being brought up for society in the city by her godmother, is the first to meet Schiller, who—despite his growing fame—is relatively poor. However, this does not stop Charlotte from meeting him again at her family’s home in the country. Caroline, who has already been married off to buffer the family’s failing fortune, now meets the writer, and the three form a powerful bond. This bond is both as family and as lovers, and begins a decades-long love triangle that withstands all manner of obstacles. However, the bond is challenged when Schiller, who marries one of the sisters, finds he loves the other more.

The film’s missteps, such as a distracting title font choice and occasionally questionable camera techniques, are far outweighed by its power, a power that stems from flawless sets and performances that allow the story’s inherent beauty to shine through. The effect is furthered for those resigned to the subtitles, as they are forced to judge the actors purely through motions and emotions. This film is romantic, fragile, tragic and inspiring for every minute of the three-hour runtime. And standing is of no importance: Beloved Sisters will leave viewers breathless in their seats.

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