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A Video Review of Sisters

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Director Brian DePalma has many times been accused of ripping off the master Alfred Hitchcock’s style and techniques with his films such as Carrie, Body Double and especially Sisters. ‘Ripping off’ and, to the extreme, theft are strong terms. After viewing Sisters again for the first time in a few years I would have to say the one we’re looking for is ‘homage.’ DePalma is paying tribute to the master.

The film having been made during his lifetime I’m sure had Hitchcock known of the script for Sisters he’d have probably killed for it. It’s right up his alley, every element is strikingly Hitchcockian. Voyeurism, murder by knife and of course the plucky independent girl reporter who wants more.

The pre-Lois Lane Margot Kidder plays a dual role of separated Siamese twins Dominique and Danielle. She is wonderfully dopey and believable even with her French accent. Jennifer Salt (whatever became of her?) is the plucky girl reporter who believes she saw Kidder slash up a lover from her apartment window across the way. Charles Durning is terrific in an early role as a helpful private investigator.

Although it begins quite bizarrely like Peter Veerhoven doing a 1970s ABC movie of the week but quickly turns into a Hitchcock flick. The “Peeping Toms” TV show in the opening looks precariously like a 21st century reality show. Perhaps DePalma was years ahead of his time voyeur-wise. His use of flashback and split screen images as well as his tricky camera shots make DePalma a genius all his own independent of the man whose mastery this film pays homage.

Sisters is a truly amazing accomplishment and should be able to stand alone as Brian Depalma’s achievement rather than Hitchcock’s tribute. It’s a thriller and a shocker that should not be missed.