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Review: Nun-in-training returns home in poignant drama ‘Little Sister’

‘Little Sister’
Peter Hedges, from left, Ally Sheedy and Addison Timlin in “Little Sister.”
(Forager Films)

Serving as the backdrop to the offbeat dramedy “Little Sister,” the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign seems positively quaint compared to the current “scorched earth” battle for the White House. But that deeply transitional era aptly serves writer-director Zach Clark’s fine, darkly poignant tale of a conflicted young nun-in-training facing her own version of “hope and change.”

When Colleen Lunsford (Addison Timlin) is given five days by her Mother Superior (Barbara Crampton) to sort out her apparent doubts about convent life, Colleen drives from New York to Asheville, N.C., to visit the dysfunctional family she left behind.

Back in her liberal hometown, Colleen reunites with her unstable mom (Ally Sheedy), chill dad (Peter Hedges), military veteran brother, Jacob (Keith Poulson), who was horribly disfigured fighting in Iraq; and Jacob’s devoted fiancée, Tricia (Kristin Slaysman).

It’s a shaky return but, as is so often the case, reconnecting with the past can crucially inform one’s future. And so it goes with former goth-girl Colleen, whose homecoming also includes hanging out with activist high school pal Emily (Molly Plunk), who’s long carried a torch for Jacob.

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The punk and metal music-infused soundtrack belies the film’s largely gentle approach to a series of small, evocative and well-played moments that combine to slowly heal the Lunsfords and prove that you can go home again.      

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‘Little Sister’

Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD

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