Words by Megan Ji
After ten years of estrangement, twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) are reunited following Milo’s half-hearted suicide attempt. Now in their thirties, the twins’ reconnection is awkward, despite their close bond as children. Maggie is now married to Lance (Luke Wilson), who is the kind of guy who calls you “amigo” and takes you out to rock climbing. The couple appears to be happy on the surface, but Maggie is secretly struggling to keep it together. Meanwhile, Milo, who has been unsuccessfully pursuing a career in acting in Los Angeles, uses a visit to his hometown to try to catch up with an old flame.
Wiig and Hader have a long history together working on Saturday Night Live and their chemistry in The Skeleton Twins is palpable. Both had established themselves as formidable comedic and improv actors, but their dramatic performances in The Skeleton Twins are so nuanced; Bill Hader in particular was a revelation. The highlight of the film is a scene in which Hader’s character performs an elaborately choreographed lipsync routine to cheer up his sister, which had me both watery-eyed and grinning stupidly. Another wonderfully funny moment was at Maggie’s work at the dentist where apparently, nitrous oxide is a great catalyst for sibling bonding.
The Skeleton Twins is director Craig Johnson’s second feature film, but he crafts the narrative with great finesse. The characters and their backstories are explored in such a refined way, and it’s no surprise the film won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance.The Skeleton Twins is an absolute breath of fresh air as a subtle comedy, and quite an emotional, heartfelt drama. At its core, it’s about two very damaged and very flawed individuals who make terrible decisions, yet they’re so full of hope and love that they’re ultimately sympathetic, making the film is a very moving experience.
Image via Sundance