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Skeleton Twins, The

Roadside Attractions // R // September 12, 2014
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Fandango]

Review by Jeff Nelson | posted September 8, 2014 | E-mail the Author

Even though certain actors and actresses flock to Hollywood after receiving their claim to fame, some find something enchanting about making films outside of the studio system. This generally provides the talent with a greater range of freedom to experiment with both the character and the overall tone. While these pictures rarely receive nationwide releases on the big screen, they have the opportunity to provide a unique perspective with the potential to immerse us. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader have become quite recognizable in the comedic realm, but now they're ready to show that they can handle dramatic material just as well in this dark dramedy. The Skeleton Twins is one of those surprise features that only comes around every long once in a while.

The sibling bond between Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) remains unbroken, even though they haven't seen one another for years. After Milo's suicide attempt, Maggie attempts to mend their relationship by opening her home as a safe haven. As they continue to reminisce and once again become close, they discover the built-up anger and sadness within one another. These feelings can only be overcome with the undying support of family.

While we see plenty of these features from same-sex siblings on the big screen, the brother and sister bond is rarely explored to these depths. There are external factors at work here, such as Maggie's oblivious husband Lance (Luke Wilson). However, this is a story that remains focused on the two siblings. We know very little of their relationship, as Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman's screenplay continues to expand on it as the picture moves along. Nevertheless, The Skeleton Twins proves to be quite a bit darker than expected. The trailers display a humorous look within this relationship, although the film's reality hits us like a brick wall. While there are hints of humor throughout the feature, this is a drama first and a comedy second. This could have easily resulting in a melodramatic mess. However, we're ultimately left with an intimate and tremendously genuine look at depression, family, and confidence. There are a massive amount of deep themes explored here, and filmmakers Johnson and Heyman have hit all of the right notes.

The Skeleton Twins truly makes us care deeply for Milo and Maggie. These are two damaged individuals who have yet to learn to truly respect themselves. Johnson and Heyman manage to create a wonderful blend of drama and comedy here. When laughs are the goal, this is a picture that is entirely successful. Whether it's Maggie's awkwardness, Milo's sarcasm, or their lip-syncing number, this film incorporates a strong sense of self. It's aware of its dramedy roots, and manages to utilize this to its advantage in unexpected ways. While the plot points themselves aren't entirely unpredictable, the journey is incredibly effective. Few pictures have the ability to have you laughing one minute and on the edge of tears in the next, but The Skeleton Twins does just that. This is largely due to the Sundance award-winning screenplay that knows how to get under our skin and manipulate our emotions.

One can only avoid their problems for so long, as is displayed through the final act of The Skeleton Twins. Both Milo and Maggie are forced to face everything that they have been running away from. This is largely represented through the use of multiple motifs seen throughout the picture's running time. They might lock them away, just as they do their emotions, but that doesn't mean that they aren't present. What might be seen as overly-dramatic for some, will be viewed as heart-wretchingly real to others. The film comes to an appropriate conclusion that intentionally leaves a few loose ends. It's entirely fitting, as the picture remains locked in on the sibling bond held between Maggie and Milo. Nothing else necessarily matters. The feature works on an effective scale, as everything comes back to this bond between siblings.

Actors Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are usually known for making us laugh. While they still want to give us a chuckle every now and then, they're striving to get into our hearts. Kristen Wiig is captivating as Maggie. She feels entirely natural, as we want nothing more than to see her reach happiness. However, Bill Hader steals the spotlight as Milo. This is the strongest performance of his career, as he delivers dialogue on a level that far surpasses our expectations. When Hader and Wiig are on screen together, the sibling bond becomes incredibly infectious. This is a relationship that feels entirely realized, as it radiates off of the screen. Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell are excellent the supporting roles as Lance and Rich, respectively. This is a wonderful cast that turns an excellent screenplay into a true piece of art.

The Skeleton Twins is one of the best ten films of 2014. It's funny, sentimental, and exceedingly genuine. The feature is dark in both its comedic tone, as well as its dramatic themes. One moment it will have you laughing, and the next it will have you on the edge of tears. Wiig and Hader deliver the most impressive performances of their careers in a film about a brother-sister bond with a unique perspective. Few films are able to achieve this level of mastery in both their dramatic and comedic tones. The Skeleton Twins is a triumph for the heart and soul. Highly recommended!



Highly Recommended

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