Anna and Lotte are orphaned twins, separated by relatives during their 20s childhood. One moves to Holland, the other stays in Germany and the girls find themselves on either side of what will soon become the Second World War. So follows a moving, if slightly predictable, epic spanning their tragic lives. Both a thoughtful statement on human nature and a polished weepie, Twin Sisters is sweeping, stately and accomplished.
Based on a novel that has sold millions in Germany and Holland, the film flits between the girls' early lives and the present-day efforts of an aged Anna trying to reconcile with the estranged Lotte. The enmity between them comes as a surprise, given the rather syrupy nature of the flashbacks. But then, as the war starts to stalk the story and the girls grow into women, their contrasting, oddly parallel lives mirror the fortunes of the continent.
"ASKS UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS"
It can definitely all get a bit much. Lotte is raised in a wealthy, liberal Dutch family, and falls in love with a Jewish family friend over a piano recital. Anna, beaten by her step-father, becomes a servant, eventually marrying a soldier who becomes an SS officer... You can guess the rest.
Twin Sisters is best when it drags itself out of its sentimentality and uses the set-up to ask uncomfortable questions of its audience, showing the war away from the shelling, barely beneath the surface in the hearts of the wives back home.
In Dutch and German with English subtitles.