Sister (L’Enfant d’en haut) is a 2012 film starring Léa Seydoux, and Kacey Mottet Klein; written by Antoine Jaccoud and Ursula Meier, and directed by Ursula Meier.
Sister is a drama set at a Swiss ski resort. It opens with a day in the life of Simon (played by Klein), as he takes a trip up to ski resort and proceeds to spend his day stealing all the gear he can get his hands on. Gloves, helmets, goggles, very nice pairs of skis, you name it. Some of it he hides around the resort, but most of it he takes down the mountain with him to hawk to the kids in his neighborhood or people driving by on the side of the road. He loads it all up into a little red sled, which he drags from the bus stop to his home in (what is assumed to be a publicly-funded) apartment tower.
We see the first glimpse of the titular sister (Louise, played by Seydoux) towards the end of the day, as she is dropped off by a jerk who we assume she has been involved with. Louise and Simon walk back to the apartment together, and we discover that Simon’s black market dealings are the only source of income for the two of them. Their apartment is messy, but we see a tender moment when Simon gives her a nice jacket he had stolen that day after they eat dinner (consisting of sandwiches he had also stolen).
The film carries on like this, mostly following Simon’s adventures on the resort. A new guy for Louise is introduced shortly after (the men being identified by their cars: the first a VW Golf Mk II, the second a red BMW). Simon befriends a young British man who works in a kitchen at the resort, and he ends up helping Simon after he learns that it’s the only source of income. Louise comes and goes with the red BMW man, occasionally bringing him home and forcing Simon to make makeshift earplugs out of cigarette filters. Simon gets caught one day by a man, who tackles him trying to retrieve his gear. Simon takes the hits, but is back at it the next day.
The big twist comes from a moment when Simon is riding in the red BMW with Louise and the man, and Simon reveals that Louise is not actually his sister but rather his mother. The man is shocked and kicks Simon and Louise out of the car. Louise is understandably angry and she gets in a fight with Simon saying that she never wanted him. Later that night, Simon is lonely and asks to sleep in the bed with Louise. She refuses at first, but after Simon offers her money she begrudgingly accepts. She steals out during the night, and is found the next morning drunk and passed out by the neighbor kids in a nearby field having spent all the money.
The two are now broke, and Simon heads up to the mountain with more resolve to get money by stealing whatever he can get his hands on. He brings along one of the younger neighbor kids and they end up stealing a large amount of children’s gear. The two are caught, and Simon is kicked off the mountain. He returns home and tries to sell whatever he can on the side of the road, to limited success. He is still upset at Louise, and in the next scene we see him go up to the resort on the day it is closing and try to leave with the seasonal workers to their next job. They don’t take him, and he ends up missing the last gondola down the mountain.
Stuck at the top, with no money and nothing to do, he enjoys the brief freedom he has. As night falls, however, he realizes how much he misses home and the next day runs down the mountain to return. He is riding the other gondola (there’s a lot of gondolas in this film), and he sees his sister pass him on her way up looking for him.
Sister is an interesting film, albeit somewhat heartbreaking. Louise clearly did not want to have Simon, but did so out of spite, and now the position it has left the two in is most unfortunate. The film has won several awards at various festivals, from Denver to Berlin, and is definitely worth seeing. It is currently playing at Art House Cinema 502 through February 14th, so be sure to check their website for showtimes.