The Sisters Brothers Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of The Sisters Brothers, a western drama set In 1850s Oregon, the tells the story of a gold prospector that is being chased by the infamous duo of assassins, the Sisters brothers.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

90

Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 2018
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 121 minutes
Genre: Western

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rutger Hauer
Directed by: Jacques Audiard
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Written by: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain
Region Code: A

Release Date: February 5, 2019

“Brothers by Blood. Sisters by Name”

Synopsis:

“It’s 1851, and Charlie and Eli Sisters are both brothers and assassins, boys grown to men in a savage and hostile world. The Sisters brothers find themselves on a journey through the Northwest, bringing them to the mountains of Oregon, a dangerous brothel in the small town of Mayfield, and eventually, the gold rush land of California — an adventure that tests the deadly family ties that bind.” – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

My Take:

Based on Patrick De Witt’s acclaimed novel, The Sisters Brothers is set during the 1850’s gold rush and follows two brothers earning a living as hired guns as they hunt down a chemist who has stolen a valuable formula from their employer. Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) is a violent drunkard with a penchant for the hard life he and his brother have grown into, while Eli Sisters (John C. Reilly) is torn between the desire for a simpler, more peaceful life and the guilt-ridden responsibility to stick by his brother’s side, despite the trouble it brings. While the two brothers pursue the chemist (Riz Ahmed) and his unlikely companion John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) across the Oregon Territory, the story takes viewers on a cathartic exploration of what it means to be a man in world contrasted by violence and opportunity.

I love a good western and after hearing positive things about The Sisters Brothers I looked forward to reviewing it. This film has a two-story narrative that follows four men as they traverse the evolving west during the mid-1800s. It speaks to the human condition in a push pull context that unravels its various themes in a deliberate manner that feels passive one moment and aggressive the next.

On the one hand there’s the Eli and Charlie Sisters, two guns for hire that have blazed a trail of violence in the name of making a living, currently in the employ of the “Commodore”. On the other hand, there’s John Morris, an educated man, that makes his living as a private eye of sorts, also currently in the employ of the Commodore and lastly Hermann Warm, a chemist, formally in the employ of the Commodore, who is now on the run, seeking to keep control of his invention and perhaps use it to better his fellow man. The paths of these men are on a convergence course that ultimately brings them all face to face with their humanity, in a way that probably none of them see coming.

The Sisters Brothers isn’t your typical straight up western although, it has similar attributes. I liked the separate stories and how they come together but, would have preferred a bit more substance to each beforehand, particularly for Morris and Warm. Eli and Charlie are easy enough to figure out but, the complexities of their makeup which is certainly hinted at, could have been fleshed out more. There is an anticlimactic nature to the final act that left me wanting and the ending was even more so. Despite that, The Sisters Brothers was entertaining, more due to the total sum of its parts, rather than being a wholly gratifying film.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

The rating is for violence including disturbing images, language, and some sexual content.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

The Sisters Brothers comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This is an excellent high definition transfer that looks terrific on Blu-ray. Images are transparent with exquisite detail and defining depth. Close ups and mid-level shots are incredibly detailed and revealing of even the subtlest nuance visible within facial features, clothing, and objects/backgrounds within the frame. Fidelity is never in question regardless of the camera’s perspective. Colors are kept within the scope of the time frame which means lots of browns, grays, and blacks. The stylized color palate deemphasizes primaries but the dusty earth tones have a rewarding quality nonetheless. Skin tones are on the bronzy side but texturally revealing. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which helps them pop during sequences that contained both light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. I didn’t observe any signs of video related anomalies or artifacts.

This DTS-HD Master Audio presentation features solid dynamics built around a nicely balanced surround mix. This isn’t what I consider to be an aggressive soundtrack. Dialog tends to play more of a role than then the brief western gunfire exchanges but, there are several sequences that allow this mix to flex its dynamic muscle. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. Bass isn’t pulse pounding but it definitively augments the richness and tangibility of small arms fire. Dialog is crystalline with excellent intonation and descriptive character. The music score sounds smooth, and airy with a room filling quality that compliments the story.

Bonus Features:

  • Striking Gold: Making a “Modern Day” Western
  • Q&A Panel
  • Brothers Forever – Featurette
  • Wanted Dead or Alive – Featurette
  • Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on Patrick De Witt’s acclaimed novel, The Sisters Brothers is an entertaining western that succeeds more so due to the total sum of its parts rather than being a wholly gratifying film. It comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring excellent technical merits mated with a fair supplemental package. The Sisters Brothers is recommended viewing for genre fans looking for a decent western on movie night.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems

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