25 year old Philadelphia native (the best city in the world, of course), Addison Timlin, first appeared on my radar as the sweet and sexy Sasha Bingham in Californication. In 2013’s Odd Thomas, she starred opposite the late Anton Yelchin as his loving girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn. A young up-and-comer, Timlin has had various other roles showcasing her talents in these past few years, moving fully away from TV since 2013 and focusing exclusively on interesting roles in the film world. 2016’s Little Sister features Timlin in one of her most interesting roles yet, a young soon-to-be nun returning home to her goth decor filled bedroom at her parents’ home one last time before taking her vows.
Colleen Lunsford (Timlin) is a girl in her early twenties, living at a convent and studying to take her vows to become a nun. Feeling a bit off, like she has some unfinished business or loose ends, she borrows a car from the Reverend Mother (Barbara Crampton) and heads home to see her family. Her older brother (Keith Poulson), home from war, is disfigured, depressed, and plays his drums incessantly while locked in his room. His fiancee (Kristin Slaysman) is trying really hard to keep it together, but she’s extremely lonely and becoming depressed herself. Colleen’s mom (Ally Sheedy) suffers from co-occurring mental health and addiction issues. Her dad (Peter Hedges) is just a regular guy, trying to be the best dad and husband he can be.
When Colleen arrives, the tension between her mother and her is immediately apparent and we are soon introduced to the struggles her brother is facing. His troubles have manifested in becoming a hermit, despite many hints that he used to be a lively and fun big brother. Colleen, looking through her room, finds an old hand drawn birthday card from her brother about the time her brought her to see Gwar for her birthday and, soon thereafter, she hatches a scheme to cheer up her brother in the show stopping scene of the film (Colleen dyes her hair pink with some Manic Panic hairdye left from her high school years, dresses as a goth nun in all white, and dances around to Gwar’s “Have You Seen Me?” while dipping dolls in blood and smearing it all over herself).
In the one of the two best family dramas of the year thus far (the horror tinged Krisha being the other), Timlin and Sheedy give two of the best performances of their respective careers. Sheedy plays the on the brink of cracking at any moment mother who earnestly wants to be a good mom with perfection. Timlin displays a variety of emotions as she wrestles with her calling, her family, and her youth. The two, along with the rest of the small cast, truly nail every note and turn the finished product into a beautiful song (filled with loud drum solos and the vocals of Oderus Urungus, RIP).
Say a prayer for Lunsfords and join them in a family reunion. Heavy at times and lighthearted at others, you’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and loving along with them all. This quirky family drama comes highly recommended.