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Steven Culp in "The Sisters"

Long Synopsis



The two eldest Prior sisters, the beautiful sardonically witty Marcia (MARIA BELLO) and her older, more ambitious, English and American Studies professor sibling, Olga (MARY STUART MASTERSON), rush across the campus of Manhattan College. They arrive at the Faculty Lounge, where their younger sister Irene (ERIKA CHRISTENSEN), an English major, is soon to arrive for her surprise party. There they meet family friends, Dr. Chebrin (RIP TORN), David Turzin (CHRIS O'DONNELL) and Gary Sokol (ERIC MCCORMACK).

When their father's former teaching assistant from Charleston, Vincent Antonelli (TONY GOLDWYN), unexpectedly arrives at the party, the conversation takes a turn down memory lane.

Soon, another Prior sibling, Andrew (ALESSANDRO NIVOLA) arrives with his fiancée, Nancy (ELIZABETH BANKS). Nancy, wearing a dress that's a little flashy, seems out of place in this academic crowd. Moreover, there is obviously no love lost between Nancy and Marcia, as Marcia wastes no time in making barbed, sarcastic remarks that reveal her contempt for Nancy.

Irene cuts the tension as she enters. The family clearly dotes on her, as does David, who lingers on his birthday kiss with her a little too long. It is at that moment that we get our first idea that Gary and David both harbor romantic feelings for Irene, who is oblivious to their jealous rivalry.

When Marcia's husband Harry (STEVEN CULP) arrives, the party takes a turn for the worse. The hostility between Marcia and Harry is palpable, and the two have an embarrassing fight in front of all the guests. Harry leaves to go to a work-related party, and Marcia stays behind.

A couple hours later, the party is over, and Marcia and Vincent stay behind to clean up. They begin talking intimately about the past. Marcia talks of her father's domineering influence over her and her siblings. She says that when their mother died, all the children in the family took on roles to please their father, and she became the woman of the house at 14. She explains that her rude and exhibitionist behavior now, is a way to combat that part of her childhood. Vincent confides that his marriage is also a travesty, and they talk about the possibility of having a relationship themselves. As they leave the faculty lounge, they share a kiss which is witnessed by Nancy who had been sent to find them because Irene has been taken to the hospital for a drug overdose.

A frantic Marcia arrives at the hospital with Vincent and Nancy and is told by Andrew that Irene is in stable condition after overdosing on crystal meth. Olga berates Marcia for being unreachable, and Marcia explains that she had to "clean up" after the party. Nancy casts a smug look at Marcia and Vincent. The sisters thank David, who waits nervously, for finding Irene and calling the paramedics. Gary arrives. When he hears that Irene was found by David who followed here home "to make sure she was safe," he calls David a pervert, and the two have a brief scuffle before being separated by the others...

Later, after some of their friends have left, Marcia and Olga sit in the hospital waiting room talking. Marcia says that what their father did to her has affected Olga, and may be affecting Irene now. Olga is clearly troubled and not too accepting of the fact that their father molested Marcia. She goes to leave, not wanting to talk about it, but Marcia urges her to listen to her, to try to give Irene something other than lies and half-truths about their father. Having barely known their father, Irene grew up believing the family's white-washed presentation of his legend and knows little of his dominating, controlling character.

A montage takes us forward through the summer, and then fall. Irene and David are now engaged, Vincent and Marcia are having an affair, and Nancy and Andrew are married, with a baby on the way. Gary is clearly in love with Irene, and is becoming even more aggressive, abrasive and less sociable in response to her relationship with David.

When the family gathers in the faculty lounge for a casual baby shower for Nancy, Andrew begins by handing out checks to the sisters. The sisters are shocked and angry when they learn that the checks are from the sale of their house in Charleston, which was done without their knowledge. Nancy, who has been listening behind the door, comes in saying, "Isn't it great news?" A huge fight ensues, and Nancy says that she's had enough of this crazy family-she's starting her own, and taking Andrew with her.

After they leave, the sisters and David move to comfort Irene, whose dream of living in the family house has just been dashed. When Gary enters the room and sees Irene crying and David trying to console her, he makes a strongly sarcastic remark to David, which causes the others to finally stand up to him and ask him to leave. As he does, David follows behind to make sure he is gone. Seeing that Gary has walked out, David turns around to return to the group. As he does, Gary races back into the room and tackles David as they both tumble through the window. As David lays motionless and bloodied on the ground, Gary gets up still in shock and walks past Irene who stares at him in disbelief. He pauses a moment as if to say he was sorry and then runs away.

In a last ditch effort to control the family, Marcia tries to shield Irene, from the sight of her bloodied fiancée. However, Irene fights back and tells her to quit treating her as if she were still a baby. She breaks away from Marcia and runs downstairs to comfort David.

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