The Skeleton Twins – Craig Johnson

Having Blondie’s upbeat song ‘Denise’ as the backing track to a man attempting suicide by downing a bottle of vodka and slashing his wrists in a bathtub does not exactly sound like comedy fare. But this opening scene sets the tone for the hit of Sundance Festival The Skeleton Twins absolutely perfectly.

The success of this comedy-drama, written and directed by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman (Black Swan) is largely due to the sparky chemistry between Kirsten Wigg as Maggie and Bill Hader as Milo – two equally messed-up siblings. Having worked together on Saturday Night Live for many years, they have the easy rapport that cements their strong camaraderie in the film.

Without this deep bond, it would be tricky to believe that they would simultaneously attempt suicide, which is the catalyst for the films drama. Maggie receives the call from the hospital about her brothers drunken attempt to slash his wrists, just as she is about to swallow a large stack of pills.

This is very much a character led, star-vehicle for the comedic talents of our central comedy duo, but there are also impressive performances by Luke Wilson as Lance, Maggie’s laddish boyfriend who is completely oblivious to the deep-rooted depression of his spouse, and Ty Burrell as a professor who began a sexual relationship with Milo whilst he was a 15 year old student, and succumbs to a rekindling of the affair.

The cinematography is sumptuous, in particular one scene at a Halloween party in a graveyard barn where the two siblings slow dance together. Here, the music, lighting and costumery come together to create a breath-taking otherworldly feel, and emphasise the beauty of two broken souls coming together and fixing one another.

The film is unabashedly of the indie variety, and with this comes the usual tropes such as wealthy protagonists who don’t help themselves with their self-absorption, and kooky hobbies such as scuba-diving (where Maggie starts a passionate affair with the dishy instructor, played by Boyd Hollbrook) and a deep-and-meaningful voiceover to start the film. However, the originality of the script and heartfelt performances elevate this film to a more sophisticated level. Having Blondie’s upbeat song ‘Denise’ as the backing track to a man attempting suicide by downing a bottle of vodka and slashing his wrists in a bathtub does not exactly sound like comedy fare. But this opening scene sets the tone for the hit of Sundance Festival The Skeleton Twins absolutely perfectly.

The success of this comedy-drama, written and directed by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman (Black Swan) is largely due to the sparky chemistry between Kirsten Wigg as Maggie and Bill Hader as Milo – two equally messed-up siblings. Having worked together on Saturday Night Live for many years, they have the easy rapport that cements their strong camaraderie in the film.

Without this deep bond, it would be tricky to believe that they would simultaneously attempt suicide, which is the catalyst for the films drama. Maggie receives the call from the hospital about her brothers drunken attempt to slash his wrists, just as she is about to swallow a large stack of pills.

This is very much a character led, star-vehicle for the comedic talents of our central comedy duo, but there are also impressive performances by Luke Wilson as Lance, Maggie’s laddish boyfriend who is completely oblivious to the deep-rooted depression of his spouse, and Ty Burrell as a professor who began a sexual relationship with Milo whilst he was a 15 year old student, and succumbs to a rekindling of the affair.

The cinematography is sumptuous, in particular one scene at a Halloween party in a graveyard barn where the two siblings slow dance together. Here, the music, lighting and costumery come together to create a breath-taking otherworldly feel, and emphasise the beauty of two broken souls coming together and fixing one another.

The film is unabashedly of the indie variety, and with this comes the usual tropes such as wealthy protagonists who don’t help themselves with their self-absorption, and kooky hobbies such as scuba-diving (where Maggie starts a passionate affair with the dishy instructor, played by Boyd Hollbrook) and a deep-and-meaningful voiceover to start the film. However, the originality of the script and heartfelt performances elevate this film to a more sophisticated level.

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