Two sisters from a small, poor village are awaiting an audience with the prince. Only Signe will see the prince, but Marie is nervous as well. It’s not often that they will get so close to royalty and power, and much is at stake for their village.
But when the protocol for the visit changes at the last minute, the girls adjust quickly, helping one another to make the meeting a success.
Written and directed by Joachim Morre, this elegant period drama captures the quiet but tense atmosphere anticipating a pivotal moment in two young women’s lives. A beautiful girl, a prince, a dance: the ingredients of a fairytale moment are all there. But the storytelling focuses on the buildup before this pivot point, as the girls prepare for this life-changing opportunity. Instead of blissful romance, there are raw nerves and suspense.
The narrative is sumptuous to look at, with beautiful costumes and settings and moody, crystalline cinematography. The scale of the story is confined to one room (and a few shots of the exterior.) But the waiting room is magnificent in both decor and proportion, lending both grandeur and intimacy to the story. The overall feeling is one of restrained elegance and muted luxury, with a delicately symphonic score, a visual style that is reminiscent of Northern European painting in the 17th century and camerawork as graceful as the dance that the girls rehearse.
Within this opulent setting, the film is firmly focused on the two sisters and the ebb and flow of their emotions. Signe and Marie are close and connected, one supporting the other as Signe readies herself to take an audience with the unseen prince. Despite not seeing him — but for a single fleeting shot of the palace grounds, where he is a small figure in the distance — the prince looms large through the anxiety he exerts.
The two young women are nervous, their humble station emphasized by the luxurious setting and the distance between their commoner status and the prince’s royal one. Played by actors Alba August and Asta August — who are sisters in real life — they have an intimate relationship, supportive but also striving. More importantly, they remind one another that they are worthy of even the prince’s attention. When they discover the procedure to meet the prince has changed, the sisters change places emotionally, as Signe takes charge and reassures Marie that she will succeed. Then they practice their dance, stepping into this sense of worthiness and confidence.
“My Sister and the Prince” has more up its sleeve than meets the eye, and it takes Signe’s fresh resolve and confidence into an unexpected direction, enlarging the intimate moment between two sisters into a more charged narrative about power and politics. It’s a clever twist, subverting expectations about femininity and young women in general. And it leaves audiences wondering just what will happen next, and in high admiration for how resourceful, intelligent and fearsome these two sisters are.