Is 'Sister Cities' A True Story? The Lifetime Movie Tells A Dramatic Family Tale
I know what you're doing this Saturday night: staying home to watch the world premiere of Sister Cities on Lifetime at 8 p.m. ET. With this new movie promising to be one of the most dramatic and shocking films to debut on the network in recent years, why would you want to be anywhere else? But you know what would make this even more intriguing? Finding out whether or not Sister Cities is a true story.
The trailer for Sister Cities on Lifetime's website certainly seems to make the movie look more like a kooky murder-mystery than an actual retelling of something that happened in real life. But according to the film's synopsis also on Lifetime's website, Sister Cities actually seems to tell a darker tale of four estranged sisters, each one sharing a mother but with different fathers, who reunite after their mom's mysterious death. Can I just say that whoever cast this movie did a good job of finding actresses who actually look like sisters when they gave Stana Katic, Troian Bellisario, Michelle Tractenberg, and Jess Weixler the roles as the siblings in this tale? But I digress. Throughout the movie, the local police department investigates the mother's death, but a terrible secret threatens to tear the family apart, as they tend to do.
There's no mention of Sister Cities being based on a true story in that summary, but it does say that the film is based on a play of the same name written by Colette Freedman. She also wrote the script for the movie adaptation.
Though Sister Cities wasn't inspired by real events, per se, a real individual did help spark Freedman's idea for the play. "I wrote Sister Cities in 2005 because my best friend, Jill Gascoine, who was a famous actress in England, told me that she was retiring from acting and would not act again unless she played a corpse," Freedman said in an interview published on The Dragon Theatre's website in 2011. "So I started with the idea that I needed to write a play about a corpse which made me give the corpse a back story and a family."
Gascoine, who revealed she was battling Alzheimer's disease in 2013, is married to actor Alfred Molina, who is also starring in and executive producing the film. In fact, Molina revealed during an interview with Red Carpet Report at the Sister Cities premiere earlier this month that the first reading had occurred with Freedman and friends at his home. Molina said he worked with Freedman through the years to bring the play to the screen.
Of course, Sister Cities' tale of family members that have grown apart coming together after a parent's death with a splash of alcohol and secrets is very reminiscent of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County and 2013 movie of the same name, as the Chicago Tribune points out in a recent review of a new production of Freedman's play in the Windy City. In fact, these kinds of somber family reunions are often featured in film, from This Is Where I Leave You to The Royal Tenenbaums to Pieces of April.
But I have a feeling that Sister Cities is going to turn this trope on its head when it premieres on Saturday night. I wouldn't expect anything less from Lifetime.