Movie Review: Sister Cities (2016)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2016 drama starring Troian Bellisario and Michelle Trachtenberg.

Synopsis: Four estranged sisters are reunited when their mother is found drowned in the bath tub. The police believe the death is a suicide. But, as the sisters wait for the medical examiner and drown out their sorrows and guilt with alcohol, they begin to realize their mother's death is much more suspicious than it first appeared to be and the last sister to see their mother alive, Austin, is hiding something.


I had planned on watching a slasher movie last night. However, I couldn't remember the title of the film I wanted to watch and, as I scrolled through Netflix in search of it, came across this movie instead. Since it was getting late and my wife and I recognized Bellisario from her starring role on Pretty Little Liars, we ended up watching this movie instead.

The movie's description was somewhat lacking and, as a result, I wasn't sure if we were watching a horror movie, mystery or chick flick. As it turns out, it was a combination of the last two and, overall, was halfway decent.

While the primary plot was about sisterly bonding and coming to grips with a family member's suicide, the thing I found I liked most about this film was the mystery surrounding their mother's (played both by Baxter and Smart) death. Thanks to the various flashbacks, it was obvious, almost from the beginning, Austin (Weixler) at least knew her mother was going to kill herself. But, what wasn't as clear were the mother's motives for doing so and just how involved Austin was in the planning.

In fact, as the movie progressed and the sisters began to notice little details that were inconsistent with Austin's original story, I began to wonder if maybe the mom didn't really kill herself and her death was really a murder.

On a more personal note, my wife and I also found it somewhat interesting Bellisario's character, Baltimore, was almost identical to the Spencer Hastings character she plays on Pretty Little Liars. As she continued to spot clues or give a know-it-all answer to a question, I half expected the rest of the cast from that series to walk in the door.

I had only two real issues with this film as I was watching it. The first is the movie never gives a good explanation about why (other than it was unique) their mother decided to name them all after cities. Was it because she traveled a lot? Was that where they were conceived? While it really didn't have much to do with the overall plot itself, it was one of those details that would have added a little more depth to them.

I also found myself a bit confused by the local police chief (Tom Everett Scott). Based on the fact the writers made an effort to give him some sort of personality and past connection to the sisters, I figured he would have much larger role in the film, including (but not limited to) being a potential love interest for Dakota (Katic).

Instead, we only see him in the very beginning and the very end. It's almost as though the writers intended for him to be a much larger part of the plot but couldn't find a way to include him more. And, if nothing else, it would have been better to see him at least snooping around a little bit more rather than leaving the sisters unsupervised with a potential crime scene upstairs.

Final Opinion

It wasn't even in the same genre as the movie I intended to watch last night. However, the film turned out to be much more interesting than I was expecting it to be and is a movie I would recommend as a result of that.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 01/04/2017, StevenHelmer
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