In a coastal Belgian town, retiree Paulette (Petersen) has settled down to a happy life running a small women's wear boutique and singing opera at the local theatre. However, her life is soon disrupted by the arrival of her mentally retarded 66-year-old sister, Pauline (Groen), who comes to live with her after the death of older sibling Martha (De Bruyn). At first, Paulette is patient and equable, but soon turns to sister Cecile (Bergmans) and her stuffy husband Albert (Stephane) for help in coping with Pauline's antics.
Sensitive and humane, but never saccharine, Debrauwer's witty, touching portrait of four sisters avoids all the clichés one expects in depictions of mental disability. Groen (star of "Antonia's Line") is a marvel playing the childlike Pauline, a limited, sweet-natured woman whose capacities for understanding are greater than others suppose. Meanwhile, Paulette and Cecile puzzle over how they can place her in an institution without losing their inheritance (a condition of Martha's will). With its wry, delicate observations of a family in crisis, "Pauline and Paulette" will stealthily win your heart.