THERE is nothing more quintessentially American than a western, right? Wrong. A French director adapting a tale written by a Canadian, with a cast that includes a British actor, can work a treat too, as The Sisters Brothers shows.

The titular brothers, Eli and Charlie, are played by John C Reilly (who originally optioned Patrick deWitt’s darkly comic novel) and Joaquin Phoenix. We first them in Oregon, 1851, as they are stealing through the night to a house full of sleeping men. Their task is carried out with professional swiftness. Acting on the orders of the mysterious Commodore, murdering a band of strangers is all in a night’s work for Eli and Charlie.

For their next job, the Commodore has sent a detective, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) ahead to find the fabulously named Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), a chemist who claims to have discovered a formula for finding gold. The plan is for Morris to make contact with Warm, then hand him over to the brothers who will extract the information one way or another. The chase is on.

Jacques Audiard, the director of A Prophet and Rust and Bone, has a good eye for the rough and tumble times. His west is a hardscrabble, lusty, near lawless place in which it is every man, and woman, for themselves. The Sisters Brothers have grown up knowing they can only rely on themselves, with each contributing something special to the relationship. Eli, the older brother, is the nicer one (if an assassin can be nice), always looking out for his too fond of his liquor brother, the brains of the duo.

Reilly and Phoenix rub along marvellously, their characters loving and occasionally loathing each other as only siblings can. Meanwhile, Morris has found his man.

Audiard cuts back and forth from one duo to the other, leavening the grime and violence with laid back humour. The brothers say little to each other, but what is said counts.

The Sisters Brothers had its UK premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival where it played to a packed house and big laughs. The film barely registered with American audiences, however, in its release there last year, although it was a limited opening. Well worth a try.

The same goes for Happy as Lazzaro (12A)****, another GFF hit. Directed by Alice Rohrwacher (The Wonders), with young Adriano Tardiolo in title role, it’s a magical tale, set in Italy, about the power of kindness. A strange whirlwind of a story, this Cannes winner will haunt your dreams, in a good way.

The Sisters Brothers: GFT, Cameo, Edinburgh, Belmont, Aberdeen. Happy as Lazzaro: GFT, Filmhouse, Edinburgh