The Skeleton Twins
An expertly executed character study, The Skeleton Twins is an exploration of grief and disappointment, of self worth and broken relationships, and of the bewildering task of navigating through the moral greys of life that threaten to topple us. It’s truthful and relatable in its poignancy, but counteracted with some gloriously uplifting moments.
Twins Maggie and Milo have spent ten years apart and are brought together again by a near tragedy. Initial awkwardness gives way to warmth as they rediscover their silly shared sense of humour. There are further twists and turns as the reasons for their estrangement eventually surface.
Great care has been taken by writer/director Craig Johnson to create a richly detailed back story, one that is subtly alluded to throughout, so that we come to know the full history without ever having it spelled out for us. The effects of this history reverberate into the present, carefully and authentically evidenced: the effects of a selfish mother, a dead father and a schooldays occurrence that split the twins down the middle. Each twin has forged a different mechanism with which to deal with this bleak world. Maggie has become shy and deferential, while Milo is darkly sarcastic.
The choice of casting in Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader is perfect, as their very eyes capture these two different traits, Wiig’s being full of melancholy and Hader’s appearing naturally cynical. Perfect performances from both draw you deeply into their plight. Luke Wilson as Lance, Maggie’s husband, is an all-round good guy, cringe-inducingly overenthusiastic, a real American dude. His brilliant performance offsets Wiig and Hader’s, with Lance never quite on the same page with their offbeat sense of humour.
Moments are loaded with significance and poignancy that will twist in your gut, while others are joyous. The scene in which the twins rock out to Starships’ Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now is soaring, managing to turn a cheesy song into a powerfully uplifting moment.
The Skeleton Twins is a beautifully woven screenplay full of foreshadowing and juxtaposition, its characters haunted by what could have been and what shouldn’t have been, doomed to repeat their mistakes, but somehow able, after all, to save one another. Honest and raw, it never falls back on clichés or tropes. If your tear ducts haven’t been exercised in a while, go and see this film.
The Skeleton Twins is released nationwide on 7th November 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Skeleton Twins here: