Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 10:05 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

‘Go for Sisters’: Friendship gets second chance in noirish thriller

A movie review of “Go for Sisters,” John Sayles’ noirish thriller about two former childhood friends on opposite sides of the law. LisaGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross and Edward James Olmos star.




The New York Times

Movie Review

‘Go for Sisters,’ with Edward James Olmos, LisaGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross, McKinley Belcher III. Written and directed by John Sayles. 122 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. SIFF Cinema at the Film Center.

The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

Bernice (LisaGay Hamilton) and Fontayne (Yolonda Ross), the title characters of John Sayles’ noirish thriller “Go for Sisters,” are not biological siblings but former high-school friends who once looked so much alike that people said they could “go for sisters.” In their tense reunion 20 years later, in a seedy Los Angeles outlier, they are on opposite sides of the law.

Now a parole officer, Bernice is assigned to the case of Fontayne, a recovering drug addict newly released from prison. The movie’s opening scene, in which Bernice turns a deaf ear to the pleas of a parole violator, reveals her to be a stern, dispassionate woman who has heard it all. She is not so much hardhearted as levelheaded. Taking pity on Fontayne, arrested on minor parole violations, Bernice gives her a second chance, and the friendship — severed when Fontayne stole away Bernice’s boyfriend — is renewed.

Bernice’s estranged son, Rodney (McKinley Belcher III), has been involved in human trafficking across the Mexican border. When he goes missing after the murder of a partner, he becomes a suspect. In return for letting Fontayne off, Bernice enlists her to use her underworld connections to help her find her son.

Their deepening friendship is the heart and soul of “Go for Sisters.”

The creation of layered characters you care about is what Sayles does best, and “Go for Sisters” includes three. The third, Freddy Suárez (Edward James Olmos), is a disgraced former Los Angeles police detective whom Bernice hires to guide them through Tijuana, Mexico. Olmos has never looked craggier and more weathered portraying this tough gumshoe.

Surveying Tijuana, he growls the movie’s best line: “This isn’t Mexico. This is like a theme park for bad behavior.”

As long as “Go for Sisters” is focused on its characters, it remains on firm ground. But the flimsy detective story draped over them is underdeveloped and too sluggishly paced to take hold. This self-financed movie badly needs a dash of Hollywood-style action.



News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The summer is wide open.

The summer is wide open.

Follow our three-part "Washington's National Parks" series running through August 10 for an in-depth look at some of our local treasures.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

Autos news and research

 What's in a wheel size?

What's in a wheel size?


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►