Directed by: Craig Johnson
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell
There’s a moment in The Skeleton Twins where Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader’s Milo and Maggie ingest laughing gas whilst at a dentist’s office. The resulting scene, as one would expect, is highly amusing; Hader and Wiig expertly showing their comedy chops. But what gives this scene its strength is that underscoring it, are two characters who are burdened by severe emotional traumas.
From their father’s suicide, to their own bouts of depression, Maggie and Milo are two characters who seem shackled by their own emotional undoing. Thus, it’s a testament to the strength of Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson’s script, that this moment of brevity never feels forced, nor does it feel out of place with the drama, but rather an organic and poignant moment between two lost souls whose only saving grace is one another.
Looking at its two stars, you’d be forgiven for envisaging something of a broad comedy, as one would expect from two SNL alums, but you’d be wrong. While this film is littered with comedic moments, The Skeleton Twins is a highly moving and honest emotional drama first, with Hader and Wiig on magnetic form as siblings struggling to cope with the emotional backlash that burdens their somewhat dour and tragic lives.
The story sees Hader’s Milo moving back in with his sister Maggie and her gregarious husband Lance, after attempting suicide. As Milo readjusts to life with Maggie after a ten year estrangement, past issues and childhood traumas are brought to the surface. From the outset, it’s clear that these two are not well-adjusted individuals. From relationship drama to depression, the writers are not afraid of throwing everything at the film’s protagonists.
Despite the subject matter, The Skeleton Twins is an absolute joy to watch. Having refined their repertoire in improv comedy shows over the years, Hader and Wiig’s chemistry is nigh on perfect, their ability to easily shift between the more comedic and tragic elements of the script is a testament to their abilities as performers.
Thanks to an honest and well-balanced screenplay, and the ease and strength of its two leads, the comedy feels organic and perfectly timed so that it never undermines the predicament of the characters’ situations.
The Skeleton Twins is a poignant, moving and emotionally engaging story that features two of the finest performances you’ll see this year.