Melbourne, Melbourne International Film Festival 2014

The Skeleton Twins, MIFF 2014

1 Comment 12 August 2014

Craig Johnson’s sophomore effort exhibits a brilliant writer and director with an eye for life’s tragic absurdity.

Skeleton Twins, starring Saturday Night Live alumni Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, is very much a film in the Mark Duplass camp of naturalistic filmmaking. Scenes of languid (hinting at mumblecore) dialogue are interspersed with gorgeous shots of urban landscapes, bookended by lush pastoral scenery. This is a film about contemplation.

Following a failed suicide attempt, Milo (Hader) accepts his estranged twin sister Maggie’s (Wiig) invitation to live with her and her husband Lance (played by the beautifully understated, yet most definitely appreciated, Luke Wilson). Of course, there are deep-seated personal issues and twisted mentalities which drive the conflict, which seem to run far deeper than what is really fleshed out on screen. Skeleton Twins is a master in the art of subtlety. The film has a ridiculous amount of exposition under its belt, but all the backstories, motivations and sordid histories are addressed in fluid motions. The film never grinds to a halt to cram information down your throat, but by the end, you’ll find yourself fitting together these tidbits of information, like puzzle pieces you’ve unconsciously been collecting over time.

Of course, the film’s main draw is its two leads. Hader and Wiig have spent the good part of a decade under the heat lamp of New York City sketch comedy. The two have developed a rapport so organic and genuine that it’s a legitimate pleasure to watch their chemistry bubble on screen. Not only do they appear convincingly as twins with a complex history behind them, but they also portray siblings who know one another down to their smallest flaws and most endearing ticks. One particular scene, which involves nothing more than the two sharing a hysterical laughing fit, is guaranteed to leave the dopiest grin hanging lopsided from your face. Skeleton Twins is a film that doesn’t try to be funny. It doesn’t need to be. It exudes its warm humour from beneath a cold layer of brutal cynicism.

Another aspect of the film that deserves merit is Hader’s portrayal of Milo, who happens to be gay, but that is not his defining characteristic. Everything about himhis snark, his egotism, his genuine sibling care and worldly naiveté, even his response to typical Hollywood cinematic scenarios – these are elements of his character which successfully avert clichés.

Now, this isn’t a film without its flaws. While Wiig’s chemistry with her fellow actors is almost flawless, it’s evident her strength lies more in comedic acting. There are occasional moments where one may be pulled out of the film by her careful, desperate to please, dramatic intention. Her voice assumes the tone of a soul weathered by too many Wes Anderson films.

However, this is a ridiculously minute nitpick of what is an incredible film. Those expecting a simple, serious vehicle for the former SNL stars will leave feeling a lot more wholesome and a lot less jaded in this wistful world of ours.

4/5 stars


Your Comments

1 comment

  1. Justine says:

    Totally disagree about Wiig, i thought she was wonderful

Share your view

Post a comment

Author Info

This post was written by who has written 3 posts on Buzzcuts.

Blog Authors

© 2024 Buzzcuts.

Website by A New Leaf Media