Ursula Meier’s “Sister,” Switzerland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film, is a canny tale of the economic and class divide in a country often considered one of the wealthiest and most privileged on earth. Two siblings live together without adult supervision on an unnamed stretch of Helvetic industrial plains; in fact, their lives are almost entirely adult-free. Twelve-year-old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) is a petty thief who pulls scams and schemes with no sense of embarrassment or shame at a nearby ski resort across a single season, helping sister Louise (Léa Seydoux, “Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol”) keep them together. (Meier has pointed out that the petite con is himself a seasonal worker.) The starkly vertical contrast between wealthy skiers and the lost children is blunt yet wittily engaged. Seydoux and Mottet Klein (who was in Meier’s debut feature, “Home”) are impressive physical actors, conveying emotion where backstory is kept to an absolute minimum. Cinematographer Agnès Godard (“Dreamlife of Angels,” most of Claire Denis’ movies) shows her long-demonstrated affinity for natural light, whether at dusk gone to deep dark blues and purples or the snow-blinded bright light of day. The lovely ending, a journey by small Simon, matches the miniscule to the majestic. 99m. (Ray Pride)
“Sister” is now playing at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.