THE SKELETON TWINS - *** (93 minutes)

 The Skeleton Twins

Sunday September 21, 2014
Nobody does dysfunction better than independent films-something I learned after attending Sundance for seven years where it seemed three of every four narratives I screened were dedicated to the subject  (Two of my favorites were 2003's Pieces of April and 2006's highly successful AA nominee Little Miss Sunshine.)  It was also not surprising that this indie won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for co-writers Mark Heyman and director Craig Johnson at this years festival which also boasts a talented cast.
Ex-Saturday Night Live alums Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader portray Maggie and Milo, two siblings who, after a ten-year hiatus, reunite in the oddest of ways:  each is attempting suicide at virtually the same instant.  How they reunite is one of the highlights of the film so I'll leave it at that.  When Milo comes to temporarily stay with Kristin and her nice-guy husband Lance (Luke Wilson in a distinguished supporting role), we get to learn how these two siblings got to the point where suicide was their choice for handling their present dilemmas and whether or not their reunion leads to personal redemption and understanding.  
Wiig gives another solid performance.  However it is Hader, who portrays her gay brother, who surprises.  For those familiar with his SNL character Stefon, his Milo is nowhere near that over-the-top representation.  Instead, his character is subtle and quieter and is certain to result in calls for future roles.  The actors exhibit tremendous chemistry on screen which,  I am certain, the two comedians  developed and honed from their seven-year working relationship on the long running TV show.  Also, notable is a small but memorable role by Joanna Gleason as Judy, Maggie's and Milo's earth mother who just could be a major source of their dysfunction.   
The film is not without problems, though.  Left unanswered is why the two decided to stop communicating for ten years.  And the ending seemed too abrupt, unbelievable, and tacked on-which left me wondering if the screenwriters were in a hurry to wrap things up to meet that 90 minute running time typical of indies.  However, that solid script and ensemble acting makes Johnson's second directorial outing worthy of  93 minutes of your time. 
The Skeleton Twins, which is more serious than comedic, had a limited opening (including DC) on September 12 and opens in Baltimore on September 26. 

UPCOMING:  Bill Murray's latest comedy "St. Vincent"
Maggie  (Kristis Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader)
Lance (Luke Wilson)



Anonymous said...

Nice heroic review Mr Berg, you continue to share and amaze with you cinema understanding....a faithful follower...F

Jay Berg said...

I'm not so sure how "heroic" the review was, F, but I truly appreciate your comments. I will continue to steer my readers in the right direction to save them time and money.