John Sayles' 18th film as writer/director, Go for Sisters, tells the story of characters dealing with fractured lives and relationships as they attempt to find a missing person who may not want to be found. Although the plot progresses a little too easily at times while solving the mystery, discovering the characters' stories and their interactions is what makes the film worth seeing.
Bernice Stokes' (LisaGay Hamilton) is a Los Angeles parole officer and is temporarily assigned recovering addict Fontayne Gamble (Yolonda Ross). They were childhood friends who were so close they could "go for sisters," but had a falling out, as girls in high school some times do. Bernice plans to transfer Fontayne because of their shared history, but the more revealed about Bernice the less a stickler for the rules she appears.
When Bernice's son Rodney, who has been distant since returning from the war, becomes a suspect in a murder, she asks Fontayne for help, even though many of the things asked will break Fontayne's parole if discovered. Rodney's trail leads into Mexico, and through Fontayne's connections, they meet up with former Detective Suarez (Edward James Olmos), whose nickname was The Terminator, but is now an old man with fading eyesight and bills he can’t afford. Yet, he is still a skilled detective, revealed by how deftly he gathers information and handles people, knowing when to back off and when to press. But will that be enough to find Rodney and provide Bernice satisfaction?
Together, they make for an intriguing trio because their actions aren't predictable or always beneficial to the task. Sayles fleshes out their characters with bits of information as the story progresses, and he also deals obliquely with a few issues, such as illegal immigration. Hamilton, Ross, and Olmos deliver authentic portrayals that are enjoyable to watch. Unfortunately, the antagonists don't have the same level of complexity, so it lessens the story's stakes. From a production standpoint, Sayles impresses with what he gets from a budget of less than a million, which he financed himself. And I need to mention how great it was to see Hector Elizono in a small, dramatic role.
Although it doesn't match his best work, Go for Sisters is recommended for fans of mysteries and crime dramas. Anyone interested in multi-ethnic lead characters should show their support and seek the film out.