Watch A sister
- 16 min
"A Sister" is a French-language thriller that premiered in 2018. Directed by Delphine Girard, the film stars Veerle Baetens as a woman working at a call center who is forced to make a life-changing decision when she receives a desperate call from a stranger. The story takes place in Belgium and centers on emergency call operator, Nathalie (Veerle Baetens) who receives a call from a woman named Jenny (Selma Alaoui) who appears to be in distress. Jenny manages to convey enough information to Nathalie to suggest that she is being held against her will in a moving car on a dark road. Because of the unstable connection, Nathalie has trouble getting a more detailed location from Jenny before the call is abruptly cut off.
Knowing that this may be her only chance to save this woman's life, Nathalie uses all her skills and persistence to try to extract as much information as possible to identify the location and perpetrator. Despite the frustrations and interruptions of other incoming calls that often overload the center, Nathalie is committed to staying on the phone to save the stranger's life.
The tense nature of the story is further amplified by the fact that Nathalie is herself recovering from a traumatic experience in her life, making it difficult for her to keep her cool and maintain a clear mind. Meanwhile, the story constantly shifts back and forth between Nathalie and Jenny's increasingly dangerous situation in the car.
The film is beautifully shot and serves as a great example of less-is-more storytelling. Rather than relying on explosive car chases and shootouts, the film chooses to focus on the emotionally charged performances of the actors and the dialogue, as the interactions between the characters become the driving force behind the film.
The film is propelled primarily by the performances of the two main actresses- Veerle Baetens and Selma Alaoui- who both give soulful and committed portrayals. Baetens' performance as Nathalie is captivating as her steely resolve and almost obsessive persistence in trying to save Jenny, while holding her inner demons at bay, is truly commendable. Meanwhile, Alaoui manages to convey a range of emotions with just her voice and the occasional glimpses of the horrifying situation she is trapped in.
Despite its simple premise, "A Sister" manages to be incredibly gripping over the course of its tightly-woven narrative. As the story unfolds, we get a glimpse of the socio-economic conditions that lead to vulnerability, and how technology can be both empowering and devastatingly inadequate in extreme situations. The film also explores the theme of family and the lengths one would go to protect them.
Overall "A Sister" is an excellent example of quiet, immersive filmmaking, with some outstanding performances and a powerful central idea. Girard's direction, supported by an intelligent screenplay, is subtle yet deftly handled, making it a highly watchable and remarkable thriller. The film was deservedly selected as Belgium's official submission for the Academy Awards in 2020.