Friday, September 26, 2014

[Review] The Skeleton Twins

Saturday Night Live alums Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star as estranged siblings in this affecting tragicomedy. Even though hilarity is often present and there are deliciously timed jokes, anyone expecting the usual light and care-free humor of this duo's past catalog is going to be greeted with a somber awakening. The Skeleton Twins navigates some dark and sensitive places, and Wiig and Hader find themselves diving into heavily dramatic territory, and it's done with impressive rigor.

After Maggie (Wiig) and Milo (Hader) both have a close-call with suicide, they reunite with each other under unfortunate circumstances for the first time in over 10 years. Maggie invites Milo to come stay at her house in an attempt to obtain some stability and patch up their strained relationship. The brother and sister harbor some weighty secrets, and the film's nuanced, layered story revolves around the symbolic 'skeleton twins' as they confront past and present conflicts. The soft-lighted memory flashes of their early, innocent childhood cast a spell of nostalgia throughout the stay.

The chemistry between Wiig and Hader is superbly infectious, lending full dimensions to their dysfunctional bonds. The characters have carried over a childlike aura into their adult lives and their tongues are planted firmly in cheek. "I can't wait to be the creepy gay uncle," Milo says when he hears Maggie and her husband (Luke Wilson) plan to have a baby. The film's highlight is a scene where the twins playfully lip-sync Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us". The moments of bonding thrill with delight, and the moments of anguish and bouts with severe depression are heartwrenching.

The Skeleton Twins serves that potent blend humor and solemnity that provokes laughter and tears. It's masterfully toned and emotionally raw, dealing with matters of mental illness as well as life's crushing complications and disappointments. Wiig and Hader give the best performances of their careers, embodying these characters with so much more than just flesh and bone.


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