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4K UHD Review: Arrow Video’s The Sisters Brothers (Collector’s Editon)

The Sister Brothers

At last, a long-awaited UHD Blu-ray release for French director Jacques Audiard’s 2018 film The Sisters Brothers from Arrow Video. Both comedic and dramatic, it’s high time for a revisit of this not-so-routine Western.

A couple of years ago I remember giving in and purchasing a copy of The Sisters Brothers on plain old DVD because I kept getting told that it just wasn’t available on Blu-ray due to a lack of audience interest. Well, it looks like Arrow Video has now expressed their interest, and as a result, we have a beautiful presentation of a different kind of Western film available, which comes together with some interesting bonus material.

Originally appearing in 2018, Jacques Audiard’s adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel The Sisters Brothers reframes the classic American Western tale and takes a more psychological approach to its protagonists.

Charlie and Eli Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix and John C Reilly) are bounty hunters on a mission to track down Herman Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), who is a couple of days’ ride ahead of them. They are fed information by detective John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has made contact with Warm and has earned his trust. The two pairs eventually cross paths, and the fall-out of their meeting is – remarkably – without the customary Western movie shoot-out.

Having established the violent tendencies of Charlie and Eli from the very first scenes, we not only get a glimpse of the reasons why the brothers perhaps are given to respond as they do, but the sibling bickering also offers a few moments of levity as the men hunt their prey.

As is often the case, an outsider’s view of something regarded as quintessentially American is often the key to genre-tweaking movies. Audiard’s French sensibility, the eye of his Belgian cinematographer Benoît Debie and the music of Alexandre Desplat all work beautifully together to create a version of the American west which as more in common with The Power of the Dog than something like The Magnificent Seven.

One major advantage of the upgrade to UHD is that the night scenes, and indeed the indoor scenes, are much sharper. Using natural light for filming, some of the key scenes lacked a little clarity on the DVD transfer, but this version solves those issues beautifully – the opening scene being a case in point.

If this is a film that has faded from memory over the last couple of years, perhaps this reissue is the very thing to prompt a revisit.

The Arrow Video Limited Edition contains:

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation 
  • Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound 
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary by authors and critics C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke
  • Barry Forshaw on The Sisters Brothers, a brand new video essay by film critic Barry Forshaw on The Sisters Brothers and the psychological Western genre
  • His Own Private Wild West, an archival hour-long making-of documentary featuring interviews with many cast and crew members including director Jacques Audiard, actor John C. Reilly, cinematographer Benoît Debie, Production designer Michel Barthélémy, sound designer Brigitte Taillandier and Patrick DeWitt, author of the novel The Sisters Brothers
  • Animated reviews
  • Trailers
  • Short promotional featurettes
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
  • Double-sided fold-out “Wanted” poster 
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by film critic Howard Hughes, academic and Audiard expert Gemma King and original production notes

The Sisters Brothers is available from Arrow Video on Limited Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray, and on Blu-ray, from 27th February 2023.

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