Having both coincidentally cheated death on the same day, estranged twins reunite with the possibility of mending their relationship.
‘The Skeleton Twins’ is a family drama about two estranged siblings, who are brought together when they both attempt to commit suicide on the same day. From this initial morbid premise, director Craig Johnson crafts a funny, touching and intimate portrayal of the brother and sister relationship between two deeply damaged individuals. Maggie (Kristen Wiig) has a pile of pills in her hands when she is interrupted by her phone ringing, as the hospital let her know her brother, Milo (Bill Hader), has attempted to commit suicide. Milo subsequently moves in with Maggie and her husband Lance (Luke Wilson), and the siblings attempt to mend their relationship whilst dealing with problems of their own.
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig have worked together on numerous occasions before, most notably on Saturday Night Live, and this helps them to build an instantly believable relationship as siblings with the playful chemistry between them clear to see. Both of them put in powerful and moving performances that require them to go through a whole host of emotions at different points of the film, with Wiig a little bit more internal in her performance, whilst Hader gets to play a more grounded character than usual. One of the film’s key subplots involves Milo and his old teacher, Rich (Ty Burrell), who he had a fling with at some point in the past. Rich is now married with a kid, and Ty Burrell does a good job of depicting the internal conflict of a man living a straight life whilst still having feelings for men. Milo had went off to Los Angeles with dreams off stardom, and he keeps up this pretence with Rich, whilst conveying his true feelings to Maggie. Neither Maggie or Milo’s lives have turned out as they hoped or expected, and particularly in Milo, this has left him with a lot of regrets that have led him to the damaged place he is at in the film.
On the surface, Maggie has a happy life with a nice husband, and kids in the pipeline. As Lance, Luke Wilson is affable, safe and reliable, but Maggie craves something more exciting and she embarks on flings with people she meets at random clubs and classes, which lead to a feeling of deeper loathing with no one to confide in until Milo comes along. One of the themes the film deals with is how the past informs the future, and people’s actions, and the siblings parental relationships come to the fore over a tetchy dinner with their mother who doesn’t care as much as she should, and some key information about their father. The best two scenes of the film couldn’t be further apart, with the first a great sequence where both Maggie and Milo lip-synch to ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ by Starship whilst dancing around the living room, before the most powerful scene of the film when both characters really let go and say what’s on their mind with devastating consequences.
‘The Skeleton Twins’ is an excellent family drama that brings the best out of its two leads and effectively balances comedy with the serious issues the main characters are facing. One of the year’s hidden gems, and well worth seeking out.
Directed By: Craig Johnson
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Boyd Holbrook, Kathleen Rose Perkins and Joanna Gleason
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