Institute History


When they were very young, the three Bellamy sisters did a "sisters act," prompted by their very dramatic, forceful mother, Ginger. In that act, Ginger set the stage for the sibling rivalry that would follow the girls well into their adult lives. Renee, the eldest, is the responsible one. Jodi, the middle sister, is the flamboyant, sexually precocious one. Karen, the baby, is the studious one who excels at everything. Ginger paints a glorious portrait of her family and their togetherness, glossing over the fact that her husband is cheating on her and her daughters don't necessarily get along.

When we first see them as adults, it's at Renee's wedding—which her sisters see as suburban capitulation. It's the late 60's, anti-war protests are rampant, and Renee marries a ROTC cadet. Amidst all the wedding fun and frolic, Jodi manages to outrage Renee by getting stoned and disappearing with the drummer. Karen, her face buried in her plate, shows the first signs of becoming bulimic.

The second interlude starts with Jodi's gallery opening in Soho four years later. Renee brings her squawking baby, Karen feels rejected by one of Jodi's ex-boyfriends, and Ginger, in a classic display of inappropriateness, brings her new paramour—for her husband has died.

The third section is Karen's doctoral graduation, five years later. Her family shows up late, no one even knows what she is studying, and Ginger chooses this day, of all days, to announce that she has remarried. By the time they all sit down to graduation dinner, there is a major blow-up. The sisters realize that they've had enough of each other and they go their own ways.

The last section, which comprises most of the movie, takes place in the present. Karen is a college professor in California. Jodi is a successful artist in Paris. And Renee lives close to her mother. It's Ginger's 65th birthday and her wish is to have all her daughters come home . . .and be friends again. A mixture of guilt and responsibility bring the girls home. They tread on eggshells, trying to get along. Just when they are ready to go back to their respective homes, they find out that Ginger has to go into the hospital for a minor operation. The operation is a success, but there is a post-operative complication and Ginger suddenly dies.

The girls are bereft without their mother and there is no longer anyone pushing them to be together. They must either "make it" as adults and find a reason to keep the sisterhood together, or part forever. Their life-long relationship is on the line.

SISTERS is both comic and serious in tone, as we follow the Bellamy girls from childhood to adulthood, with their joys, their pains, and their love for each other. We discover the truth of the axiom that "parents pass away, friends come and go, marriages break up, but sisters are forever."


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