Underrated Western Pitting Joaquin Phoenix Against Jake Gyllenhaal is Free to Watch Now

Underrated Western Pitting Joaquin Phoenix Against Jake Gyllenhaal is Free to Watch Now
Image credit: globallookpress

It got amazing reviews and had an A-List cast… so why did it bomb at the box office?


  • Years ago, John C. Reilly bought the rights to one of 2011's most popular novels.
  • He produced and starred in the film adaptation alongside Joaquin Phoenix and Jake Gyllenhaal.
  • The movie combines the best of Westerns, buddy comedies, and road-trip flicks, but it remains an underrated classic.

Back in 2018, movie theaters sold very few tickets to a new Western comedy starring an A-list cast. In spite of the fact that it pleased most critics, the film flew totally under the radar and didn't even make half of its budget back.

Luckily, it's now available to watch for free.

All Signs Pointed To A Hit

The Sisters Brothers, a novel by Canadian writer Patrick DeWitt, became an international bestseller in 2011. The novel takes place in the Wild West and is narrated by Eli Sisters, one half of the notorious outlaw duo The Sisters Brothers.

Actor John C. Reilly (Chicago, Walk Hard) loved the novel and purchased the film rights for his production company. Seven years later, the movie adaptation of The Sisters Brothers was released. French director Jacques Audiard co-wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, which was filmed with a budget of $38 million.

It had a stellar cast, and great reviews. It also totally bombed at the box office.

What's it About?

Oregon, 1851. Eli Sisters (John C. Reilly) is growing tired of his life of crime, which he lives alongside his volatile and often-drunk brother Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix).

Underrated Western Pitting Joaquin Phoenix Against Jake Gyllenhaal is Free to Watch Now - image 1

The gunfighting brothers are hired by their sinister employer to kill a man named Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed), who has invented a formula that reveals gold deposits when poured into the river. Warm escapes the clutches of the Sisters with the help of private detective John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal). Soon the chase is on between Morris, Warm, and the Sisters brothers, who track their quarry through bear attacks, spider bites, and scheming brothel owners.

The Sisters Brothers packs a wide range of genres into a two-hour run time: it's a Western, a family drama, a road-trip movie, and a buddy comedy all rolled into one.

Underrated Western Pitting Joaquin Phoenix Against Jake Gyllenhaal is Free to Watch Now - image 2

What Did Critics Think?

The Sisters Brothers earned a standing ovation at the 75th Venice International Film Festival, where Jacques Audiard won the Silver Lion for Best Director. Outside the festival the response was also positive, with critics sometimes taking issue with the movie's slower pacing but largely loving the cast, cinematography, and humor.

'John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix shine as wild west hitmen who are just smart enough to know they should be smarter, [and] whose quest leads them in unexpected, funny, and surprisingly emotional directions.' – IGN

'A subtle and funny Western…a resoundingly enjoyable and funny movie.' – The Guardian

Why Haven't I Heard of It?

It's hard to say why The Sisters Brothers did so badly in theaters, but blame seems to lie on the shoulders of its distributor, Annapurna Pictures. The movie was originally given a very limited release, and was only available at a very small handful of theaters. Even when it became more widely distributed, there was very little advertising for The Sisters Brothers. Even some fans of the book were surprised to find that it had come and gone with almost no fanfare.

I Can Watch It For Free, You Say?

Yup, The Sisters Brothers is now available to watch for free on the Roku Channel, Tubi, and Hoopla. If you prefer to pay and avoid the ad breaks, you can rent the movie on Apple TV, YouTube, and Prime Video.

Sources: The Guardian, IGN.