“The Skeleton Twins” review


Photo courtesy of Reed Morano.

Photo courtesy of Reed Morano.
Photo courtesy of Reed Morano.
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader shine as estranged siblings brought back together under unexpected circumstances after 10 years of not speaking in Craig Johnson’s  “The Skeleton Twins.” Laced with the kind of chemistry only Wiig and Hader can bring to the screen, “The Skeleton Twins” is darkly comedic while exploring the characters’ pasts and examining the reasons behind their failed relationships, both with the people in their lives and with each other.
As children, twins Maggie (Wiig) and Milo Dean (Hader) are the best of friends, but when their father suddenly commits suicide, the two careen out of control on different paths. The movie begins a decade after they went their separate ways, when struggling actor Milo attempts to commit suicide. After the hospital calls Maggie, he begrudgingly accepts her offer to come stay with her and her adoring husband Lance, played by the delightful Luke Wilson, in upstate New York. Unbeknownst to Milo, Maggie is also fraying at the seams, secretly sabotaging her husband’s efforts to conceive a child and engaging in an ongoing flirtation with multiple different men, though the audience is only privy to one, the hunky Boyd Holbrook who plays Maggie’s scuba instructor. Milo seeks out his first true love, his high school English teacher Rich (Ty Burrell), who, after rebuking Milo several times, eventually rekindles the romance between the pair. As Maggie and Milo wade through their respective messy lives, they’re forced to confront their own relationship and work through past difficulties to move forward together and save each other.
“The Skeleton Twins” is laced with a kind of dark comedy I didn’t expect, though Wiig is definitely known for her versatility in any role. The Saturday Night Live duo has been working together for eight years, and it certainly shows — the chemistry between Wiig and Hader is out of this world. Their on-screen relationship is simultaneously wacky and serious as the siblings grow closer then push each other away. This ebb and flow, pull and push movement is what drives the film, making all other relationships take a back seat. Maggie and Milo have to get to the heart of their qualms about each others’ past behaviors and throughout the film, that end goal of resolution is constantly in flux. Each of the twins has to figure out their own problems while attempting to maintain the complicated web of relationships around them, and the moments in which everything falls apart are when Wiig and Hader really shine.
Hader’s and Wiig’s eye-opening dramatic performances rest largely on their subtle banter, wit, and serious soul-searching, a product of the genius of co-writers Mark Heyman and Johnson. Both are able to find the flaws of their characters while seamlessly blending humor and powerful emotion together to create believable, relatable characters I personally resonated with. Each of the roles’ complexities are executed beautifully by Wiig, Hader, Burrell, Holbrook, and Wilson, and I found myself laughing hysterically one minute and crying the next.
Nearly everyone in the theatre had powerful visceral reactions similar to mine. That was the true power of “The Skeleton Twins” — it tugs its audiences around, leading them on a breathtaking emotional journey that was duly Maggie’s and Milo’s as well as their own. I know the first thing I did when I got out of the film was text my own brother and remind him how much I loved him. If that’s not the mark of an absolutely incredible movie, I don’t know what is.
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