Review: The Skeleton Twins

It’s not often that two breakthrough dramatic performances from comedic actors are in the one film. Ever since Bill Murray went serious, comedy actors have strived to find that film to show their dramatic chops.

It’s not often that two breakthrough dramatic performances from comedic actors are in the one film. Ever since Bill Murray went serious, comedy actors have strived to find that film to show their dramatic chops. From Robin Williams (Dead Poets Society) to Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love), the breakthrough dramatic performance can lead to a career of prestige roles (Murray) or be a bizarre footnote among a career of gross-out money-makers (Sandler). For Saturday Night Live alumni Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, their subdued melancholy performances in The Skeleton Twins signal that they are more likely to follow Bill Murray’s career trajectory than Sandler’s, as this latest film from Craig Johnson (True Adolescents) shows there is more to their on-screen personas than delivering laughs (though there are laughs to be had here). Wiig and Hader play Maggie and Milo, twins who haven’t spoken for a decade. Both attempt suicide on the same day. With Maggie’s contemplation of swallowing pills interrupted by a call that her LA-based gay and unemployed actor of a brother is in the hospital recovering from his attempt. Maggie visits her brother before inviting Milo to stay with her and her loyal yet unfulfilling husband Lance (a great comeback role for Luke Wilson). With suicide and other dark and uncomfortable themes such as mental illness, paedophilia and extramarital affairs present, this is a dark indie that at times is devastating to watch but is broken up by moments of joy, especially when the twins bond (their lip-synching version of Nothing’s Gonna to Stop us Now is sweet, funny and sad). The Skeleton Twins is a brave film about people with depression and though the direction is a little stale and clichéd at times, it is made remarkable by the lead performances by Wiig and Hader, especially Hader, whose comedic shtick had been getting a little tired of late. His sarcastic Milo is devoid of caricature while showing the darkness that lurks underneath many of us. The Skeleton Twins opens on Thursday, September 25. Rated M.

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