In a word, authentic. They pull off something here that Clint Eastwood just can't seem to nail (using non-actors to make it feel real). It makes for a pretty emotional and highly engaging film.
Similar in many ways to The Wrestler, but instead of a daughter who doesn't need him, you have a sister who very much does need him.
The cinematography is off the charts, reminding me of Legends of the Fall, Brokeback Mountain, Dances with Wolves and just a smidgen of Hell or High Water. (the various movie studios pay me $0.25 for each time I name drop one of their movies in these reviews which are read by dozens upon dozens).
Putting these three specific leads into this story was surely a risky experiment but it totally pays off. Everything feels as real as it gets. It will tug on each string that holds your heart in place.
I cannot WAIT to see more from director and screenwriter Chloe Zhao. Movies live and die much more by the talent of the director/screenwriter, rather than the efforts of the cast, and it will be very apparent here that she is someone of remarkable talent.
Heart rating: 5 stars (you betcha)
Brain rating: 4 stars (there are still some surprises, but I was often worried I was going to be able to predict the entire movie)