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By Bradley Gibson | December 5, 2023

Latvian Director-Writer Linda Olte’s intense drama Sisters (originally Masas in Latvian) presents the lives of two young orphans in Latvia. Diana (Gerda Aljena) and her older sister Anastasia (Emma Skirmante) are in the care of the state since their mother, Alla (Iveta Pole), is in prison for killing their father. In Alla’s defense, the man was abusing Diana and deserved to be chucked out a window, but this doesn’t mean Alla is a model citizen, nor is she a good mother. Alla also has a young adult daughter, Julija (Katrina Kreslina), who is overwhelmed caring for her infant child.

The center of this galaxy of despair is Anastasia, who is trying to make a good life for Diana and desperately wants them to be reunited with their mom. When Alla gets out of prison, Anastasia sees her whenever she can, and Alla seems to enjoy it but makes no moves to reclaim the children. Anastasia asks Julija to take them in, but she’s unable. Soon enough, Alla disappears again, ghosting her kids.

“…the troubled lives of  young Latvian girls…”

The orphanage is staffed by caring people, but they are constantly overcrowded, running out of room to take in children. While Anastasia is doing her best for her sister, she’s also becoming a teen delinquent. She’s embarrassed at the school when the assignment is to create a family tree. She’s comfortable breaking the law, casually shoplifting, and then undertaking more significant theft at a department store to get clothes that Julija can sell. She acts out by freeing dogs from a shelter, and she randomly destroys property. She is also beginning to move into more serious crimes, such as running drugs for a local dealer, since the punishment for kids her age is less severe than if she was an adult. The dealer draws her in with his attention, some of which seem sexual in nature, making her feel more grown-up than she is. This notion is dispelled later on when she finds out the real reason she can’t stay with Julija is that the dealer is in a sexual relationship with her.

It’s clear to see that Anastasia craves structure in her life. She wants to be in an orderly household with her mother or her older sister. In her young life, she has suffered a great deal of trauma and has been kept on track by the necessity of caring for Diana, who is not yet old enough to grasp how terrible their lives are. Anastasia tries to solidify her own plans by identifying more closely with her mother. She gets a tattoo of an A (for Alla) on her arm, styles her hair like her mother’s, and takes a necklace from Alla and wears it constantly.

Sisters (2023)

Directed and Written: Linda Olte

Starring: Emma Skirmante, Gerda Aljena, Katrina Kreslina, Iveta Pole, Bella Alexandras, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Sisters Image

"…The center of this galaxy of despair is Anastasia..."

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