Two years ago, when you signed into Facebook, you couldn’t scroll for more than two minutes before you saw a new video of someone completing the Ice Bucket Challenge. The premise was simple: dump an ice-cold bucket of water on your head and challenge three friends to do the same. It was created to raise awareness and funds for ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
This September, Cannonball Films is putting ALS back in the spotlight with its newest film Sister Cities, based on the play written by Colette Freedman. The title is self-explanatory – it’s the story of four sisters: Carolina, Austin, Dallas, and Baltimore. When their mother apparently commits suicide, the four reunite for the first time in quite awhile, but things aren’t adding up. As they all try to cope with the situation, each picks up on little things that did (or didn’t) happen.
The movie boasts a star-studded cast, including Jacki Weaver, Stana Katic, Troian Bellisario, Jess Weixler, Michelle Trachtenberg, Alfred Molina and more.
Directed and produced by Sean Hanish, the film isn’t your typical Lifetime movie. That said, it still isn’t a feel-good film, nor is it supposed to be. Instead, it’s a realistic story that leaves audiences with a powerful question: what would you do? Just like the four sisters, audiences have to piece together what happened. But, thanks to assorted flashbacks, the audience figures out what happened long before the sisters, creating a deeper emotional attachment to the story.
Now, if movies like New Year’s Eve (or any of its related titles) have taught us anything, it’s that a film cannot survive on star power alone. In the case of Sister Cities, this cast expertly showed their depth and range. The film puts the actresses in roles that are likely unexpected to viewers, but played just as flawlessly. After seven seasons as the poised and headstrong Spencer Hastings, Bellisario hits screens this time as the free-spirited Baltimore. The actress exuded a natural playfulness, adding welcome fun moments to a heavier story. Michelle Trachtenberg combined the best of her acting abilities, creating the high-strung but still vulnerable Dallas. In this role, it’s her non-verbal cues that speak the loudest. Jess Weixler, playing Austin, skillfully pulls the audience in – the emotional conflict of the character is impossible not to feel. Stana Katic plays the eldest of the Baxter clan, Carolina (Carol, as she adamantly prefers). Katic displays the most subtle character developments, all while going between both ends of the emotional spectrum, without missing a beat.
Most importantly, the chemistry between the four women as a unit made this movie work. Their relationship as sisters was 100 percent believable and enjoyable. Each one has such a different personality that when they all come together, makes for one interesting family reunion.
As a whole, the film is surprisingly real. It strays away from their typical (overly) intense plots, and you won’t feel so guilty for tuning into a Lifetime movie premiere.
Sister Cities premieres on Lifetime on Saturday, September 17 at 8 p.m. EST.