Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Skeleton Twins

Directed by Craig Johnson and written by Johnson and Mark Heyman, The Skeleton Twins is the story of two estranged twin siblings who come together following their respective suicide attempts as they deal with the pain of their childhood as well as what went wrong in their life. The film showcases a world where two siblings are at the end of their ropes in their life as they seek to help each other. Starring Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Boyd Holbrook, Ty Burrell, and Joanna Gleason. The Skeleton Twins is a witty yet somber film from Craig Johnson.

The film explores the lives of two estranged twin siblings as they haven’t seen or spoken to each other in a decade where they come together following their respective suicide attempts. For Milo (Bill Hader) and Maggie (Kristen Wiig), their lives as adults haven’t gone well as they planned where Milo moves back to his small New York town following his suicide attempt to live with Maggie and her husband Lance (Luke Wilson). While Milo and Maggie both deal with the failures of their adult lives, they also wondered where did everything go wrong as they also cope with their father’s passing many years ago. It’s a film that doesn’t just explore the world of siblings but also in how they try to re-forge the bond of their already fragile relationship.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the lives of their two siblings but also what drove them to not contact each other for a decade as part of that reason is their New Age mother (Joanna Gleason) whom Maggie really dislikes. Especially as Maggie is becoming insecure about the prospect of being a parent as she and Lance are trying to have kids while Maggie embarks into an affair with her scuba diving instructor Billy (Boyd Holbrook). Milo meanwhile, wants to rekindle a relationship with his old high school English teacher Rich (Ty Burrell) whom they had an affair when Milo was 15. The siblings deal with their own issues as they also deal with their own relationship where Milo would befriend Lance whom he realizes that he’s just a good guy as it plays into the question of what Maggie is going through.

Craig Johnson’s direction is quite simple where most of it is shot around parts of Brooklyn in New York City where it has a sense of intimacy that occurs where there’s very little wide shots. Johnson instead uses some medium shots and close-ups to tell the story as it plays into this relationship between estranged twin siblings. Johnson’s compositions in the way he captures conversations as well as some of the film’s humor plays into this relationship where Milo is often very outgoing while Maggie is a bit more introverted and mature. Even in a sequence where Milo tries to cheer Maggie up by lip-syncing to Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now as it becomes of the film’s highlights. Still, Johnson knows that there has to be some dramatic outcome though the result does make the film a bit uneven. However, it does manage to have a payoff where it plays to the bond between the two no matter how troubled their lives are. Overall, Johnson creates a very engaging and enjoyable film about the troubled lives of twin siblings.

Cinematographer Reed Morano does excellent work with the cinematography from the look of the locations of the small New York town in the daytime during the fall season to some unique lighting schemes at night as well as some scenes in the pool. Editor Jennifer Lee does nice work with the editing as it‘s pretty straightforward for the most part as it does include a few montages of Milo and Maggie as children. Production designer Ola Maslik and set decorator Lauren DeTitta do wonderful work with the set pieces from the home that Maggie and Lance live in to the book store where Rich works at.

Costume designer Mikaela Wohl does fantastic work with the costumes from the casual clothes many of the characters wear to the Halloween costumes Milo and Maggie wear on that day. Sound designers Matt A. Schoenfeld and Ian Stynes do terrific work with the sound from the sparse sounds in the scenes in the pool to the raucous atmosphere in the bar scenes. The film’s music by Nathan Larson is amazing as it is a mix of electronic and indie that plays into the melancholia and humor of the film while music supervisor Meghan Currier creates a fun soundtrack that features a lot of new wave and 80s music from acts like Blondie, OMD, and Starship.

The casting by Avy Kaufman is great as it features some notable small roles from Truck Hudson as a security guard that arrests Milo, Kathleen Rose Perkins as an old schoolmate of Maggie that runs into Maggie at an ice cream shop, Eddie Schweighardt and Sydney Lucas in their respective roles as the young Milo and Maggie, and Joanna Gleason in a wonderful performance as Milo and Maggie’s estranged New Age mother Judy whose attempt to reconnect with her children ends up being a disaster. Boyd Holbrook is superb as the Australian scuba diving instructor Billy whom Maggie would sleep with while Ty Burrell is excellent as Milo’s former English teacher Rich who is reluctant to have an affair with Milo as he has a new life of his own.

Luke Wilson is brilliant as Lance as an all-around nice guy who tries to cheer up Milo by having him work with him while revealing that he just wants what everybody wants which is to be happy. Finally, there’s the duo of Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in amazing performances in their respective roles as Milo and Maggie. Hader brings this unique mix of comedy and drama as a failed actor who tries to kill himself as he returns home to figure out what to do while also understanding that his own sister is just as fucked up as he is. Wiig brings a more restrained approach to her character as someone who is unhappy in her life as she tries to be the mature one while not knowing how to deal with the idea of being a mother as she becomes more insecure. Hader and Wiig have this natural chemistry in the way they act with one another as well as bringing in a lot of laughs.

The Skeleton Twins is a remarkable from Craig Johnson that features incredible performances from Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. The film isn’t just a story that is sweet but also very melancholic in the way it explore twin sibling relationships but also in the idea of loss and uncertainty as these two people try to cope with it. In the end, The Skeleton Twins is sensational film from Craig Johnson.

© thevoid99 2014


Brittani Burnham said...

I keep trying to find a babysitter so my husband and I can go see this. I'm glad you liked it! I'm really iffy on Wiig, but pretty much sold on the rest.

thevoid99 said...

Wiig is really good in this yet she is at her best in her scenes with Bill Hader as they make a great team.