Brian De Palma's "Sisters" is a Classic!


*Contains Spoilers”

The 1973 film “Sisters” was director Brian De Palma’s Hitchcockian murder mystery starring Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt.  Released a few years before his breakout film “Carrie” “Sisters” deals with a woman in the grips of severe psychological trauma and a female reporter trying to get her big break.

The film opens with a close up of a growing fetus inside a womb then revealing conjoined twins Danielle and Dominique.  Margot Kidder plays both parts but primarily as Danielle a French Canadian fashion model who is consistently stalked by her weaselly ex-husband Emil.  While on a hidden camera game show she strikes up a relationship with Phillip and after a dinner date they go up to her apartment.  The whole feel of the film is one of voyeurism, especially from the point of Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt), the newspaper reporter who lives in the next building over.  The morning after Phillip goes to the pharmacy to pick up Danielle’s medication and also gets her a birthday cake at the bakery.  When he gets back he is rudely greeted by a sleeping Dominque who stabs him to death.  

Alfred Hitchcock has been a huge influence on De Palma’s career and you can see allusions to several Hitchcock classics like “Rear Window” and “Psycho” within “Sisters”.  While Danielle and Emil frantically clean up the murder scene, Grace Collier witnesses the whole thing and is hot on their trail and calling the police to investigate.  De Palma is also known for using split screens in a  majority of his films.  It’s a unique and clever device when used correctly and he has perfected it.  The police find nothing out of the ordinary (of course) as the body is hidden within a sofa-bed.  

What we see next is a cat and mouse thriller between Danielle and Grace.  Grace hires a private investigator as this story could be her big break.  But her dogged tenacity has dire consequences when the tables are turned and she’s accused of being the crazy one.  In a big exposition dump, we learn about Danielle’s troubled past and that of her twin sister.  We end up with a rather anti-climactic ending that is none the less quite chilling.  Although not completely satisfying in the traditional sense it seems to fit quite well for a De Palma film.