by George Wolf
Remember the old show tune that goes, “Lord help the mister, who comes between me and my sister”?
In Beloved Sisters (Die geliebten Schwestern), one particular mister finds a pair of sisters to come between (literally) and the love triangle is put on a very slow boil by writer/director Dominik Graf.
It is Germany in the late 1800s, and sisters Charlotte and Caroline share a tight bond despite following different paths. Impulsive, fiery Caroline (Hannah Herzsprung) has already married, presserving her family’s aristocratic status by accepting a match made more for convenience than love.
Shy, reserved Charlotte (Henriette Confurious) seems destined for a similar fate when she meets Friedrich (Florian Stetter), a brilliant young writer who has not yet attained the fame or fortune to satisfy Madame Louise (Claudia Messner), the girls’ widowed mother.
Caroline encourages her sister’s interest in Friedrich, and soon is interested herself, and the trio moves from playful flirtation to the determined promise of an unconventional life together. The sisters make an oath to share everything, but…
“Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!”
Graf (A Map of the Heart) mirrors the rebellious romance with the social and political unrest of the period, especially the reports of the growing revolution in France. He contrasts the historical setting with a more modern directorial approach, utilizing quick cuts and zooming closeups you might associate more with a nighttime soap opera than a serious period piece. Quirky, but it works.
The performances are solid and the scenery pretty, but as the running time closes in on three full hours, you wonder if Graf could get to the point a bit more quickly.