Sister Movies

Monday, April 10th was National Siblings Day reminding me, as if I needed a reminder, to celebrate the indelible bond I share with my sister. I've written of our relationship before and how a love of music often brought us together when we were young. After nearly forty years together (where does the time go?) there are many stories left to tell. Aside from music, I can think of many movies the two of us have always held near and dear throughout our ever changing and everlasting relationship.

Whenever we reunite there are two cherished movies, which we refer to ingeniously as "Sister Movies," that we love to watch together.


Sense and Sensibility (1995)

My sister, a huge Jane Austen fan, was likely the first to suggest we watch Ang Lee's splendid adaptation about the Dashwood sisters, Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet). Growing up it was obvious, to everyone probably, that my approach to life and love was similar to Marianne's, whereas my elder sibling's was much more reserved and dependable, like Elinor. Today I'd say that, well, not much has changed really, but of course neither character can fully encapsulate who we are and I'd venture that there are pieces of Elinor and Marianne in both of us. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that neither of us ever comes across this movie without texting the other that it's on and that neither of us will ever make it through the scene where Elinor sits at Marianne's bedside without blubbering. "Please, dearest, beloved Marianne, do not leave me alone."

Little Women (1994)

Louisa May Alcott wrote the pinnacle of sister stories and I never tire of Gillian Armstrong's adaptation. As writers, both my sis and I relate strongly to Jo March (Winona Ryder), but as a girl I also felt a kinship with Beth (Claire Danes) who was happy just to stay at home with Marmee. An ongoing joke between us with this one is how much we've always despised the character Amy (Kirsten Dunst/Samantha Mathis). While tolerable as a snooty young girl who doesn't know any better, we always pitied poor Laurie (Christian Bale) for getting stuck with her in the end. There are so many moments to love in this movie, but Jo March eloquently sums up exactly why it's so meaningful to us: "I could never love anyone as I love my sisters."

I can think of a number of other movies we could add to create a Sister Movie Marathon, many which we have watched together at one point or another: Practical Magic, The Virgin Suicides, A League of Their Own, Ginger Snaps. Pretty much anything I watch with a storyline about sisters is going to speak to me on a deeper emotional level. Sisterhood is the type of relationship I can't begin to describe to anyone who hasn't had it and one I don't have to describe to anyone who has. It's fun, it's infuriating, and it can get very complicated, but overall it's one of the most meaningful connections I've been lucky enough to have in my life.

Aside from the obvious, there are movies my sister and I watched together that became special to us for other reasons. The most prominent on that list would have to be The Lost Boys--which I'd argue still holds up so well because it centers around the close sibling bond between Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim). It was the first R-rated movie we ever watched together and our introduction to a lifelong love of vampire stories. If I remember correctly, it was also the doorway to our first celebrity crushes. She was smitten with Billy Wirth and Kiefer Sutherland, while my bedroom walls featured the two Coreys and Jason Patric. I remember being so obsessed that we would reenact the bridge scene on our swing set in the backyard. It became our ritual to watch it every Friday night for months until we knew every line by heart. I'd wager that together we could still recite the entire movie from beginning to end. "I'm your brother, Sammy, help me!"

My sister and I were always pretty close, but it wasn't until I got a little older and started showing interest in things she liked that we developed a deeper bond. A bond that stretched beyond being two members of the same family to being best friends. I was lucky to always have her as my guide. She got everywhere first and she never held back from sharing what she discovered along the way. Now, despite distance and differences she's still my closest friend. She will always be sense to my sensibility and I could never love anyone as I love her. We're bound by, not only blood, but a shared lifetime of encounters and experiences. Once we had shared it, something as simple as a song became more than a song and a movie so much more than a movie. They became bookmarks to times we spent together as girls. Times we still revisit over and over again when we're together. You can never really go back and relive the past, but if you're lucky, like I am, you have someone by your side with whom to remember and cherish it for a lifetime.