The Skeleton Twins (2014)

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For the last several years, SNL was populated by two of the funniest and most talented actors/actresses. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig often led sketches, in which they were a little off and most likely had to do a voice. Both left SNL to focus primarily on movies and they couldn’t be more busy. Fortunately for any fans of their’s, the two decided that they wanted to do a comically serious film together. Funnily enough, the result was one of they year’s funnier films that was also quite moving.

Maggie and Milo are both safe.
Maggie and Milo are both safe.

After flashes of the past fade away, Milo (Bill Hader) stands near the foot of his bed, observing himself in the mirror. His focus then shifts to an old picture that he took with his then boyfriend. Slowly, Milo slides into the tub and we see blood beginning to mix in with the water. At the same time, Milo’s sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig) is holding on to a dozen pills which she doesn’t swallow, only because a call came in and told her that Milo was in the hospital. Fortunately, Maggie flushes the pills and flies out to Los Angeles to go visit her brother.

Upon arrival to the hospital, Maggie takes into consideration that she and her brother hadn’t spoken for about 10-years. When she went to see him, it was as if no time had passed at all. To make sure her brother was okay, Maggie brings Milo back home with her to live in her home. It;s there that Milo meets Lance (Luke Wilson), Maggie’s fiance with whom she’s not entirely happy. Milo also has an old lover named Rich (Ty Burrell) back home, but their history makes things complicated between them. Both Maggie and Milo are depressed and even suicidal, but their sibling love and realistic views brings them someone they need.

Maggie and Lance bring Milo back to their home.
Maggie and Lance bring Milo back to their home.

The Skeleton Twins is an evocative and touching familial drama that speaks about family and familial issues on many levels. With two towering performances and a script that pleases and hurts, this film really works wonders over the human emotions and resonates so well. Its darkly comic approach to depression, conformity, and misunderstanding is extremely effective. This is certainly one of this year’s more original and enjoyable films and the chemistry with in it elevates it to a whole nother’ level.

Bill Hader’s approach to his character is absolutely brilliant, as his “cliche gay” is full of heart, but also hurt. He’s detatched from most of the world and it’s sad because he’s got so much joy to offer. Watching him wallow in his sorrows hurts, but things get happier and more cheerful when he’s embracing his lifestyle and working alongside his sister. In one particular scene, he does his best to make his sister smile and it’s genuinely one of the most-perfect scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. His reactions, positive or negative, are wonderful and Hader really shines in this role.

Milo went to go see Rich.
Milo went to go see Rich.

Kristin Wiig is not entirely the woman you know from SNL here, as she’s more guarded and reserved than many are used to. Her character is just barely making it by with her level of sanity and Hader’s reintroduction back into her life sparks something amazing in her. Wiig then slowly starts to come back to that quirky girl we’re all familiar with, but she still retains some sense of caution. Her life is in shambles and she can’t stand herself, but having Hader around gives her some sense of purpose and gives her a reason to stick-up for herself and have a similar effect on his life too.

Writers Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson really outdid themselves with this unusual screenplay. The film deals heavily with suicide and the choices that we have to live with and it doesn’t tiptoe around things. Sometimes, what you’re hearing is pretty harmful, but it’s the truth and what may need to be heard. The film’s honest and sometimes funny approach to dealing with depression and suicide works better than one would expect and it adds some lightness to it all, allowing us to see who these character really are and how they work together.

Sibling bonding time!
Sibling bonding time!

As a director, Craig Johnson has a very profound eye for showing us the sibling connection and how others perceive them. The relationship aspect is taken beyond the siblings and we see their own relationships with their significant others. Luke Wilson isn’t a bad guy and he doesn’t play one, but he’s just uninteresting for Wiig’s taste. Ty Burrell’s inclusion in the film is a bit more delicate and he fits in perfectly, almost the antithesis to Hader’s.

The Skeleton Twins left me feeling happy and satisfied with what I just watched. I simply cannot say enough great things about Bill Hader and Kirsten Wiig’s performances. The two have such tremendous chemistry that works well with different moods. The subject matter fits perfectly with Johnson’s semi-comedic handle of depression. Moreso, the approach to the siblings seemed natural and really rounds out the message about the importance of the ones closest to you. You’re going to laugh, but you’re also going to feel a lot and that’s what makes this film unique.

The Skeleton Twins Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQJ6vb-Pzb8

4 STARS!!!

4 / 5 stars     

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