THE SKELETON TWINS
WARNING! THIS FILM REVIEW IS SLUTTY WITH SPOILERS.
We were originally lured to the theater by the sole idea of Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig as siblings, and it was a dynamic that did not disappoint.
The broad parameters of their relationship are laid out for us briefly: They haven’t spoken in over ten years; they lost their father to suicide and their mother to the New Age. We can see a deep rift between them, it is a distance that is quickly bridged with a string of inside jokes of a peculiar humor and fucking phenomenal dancing. Hader and Wiig have incredible chemistry and are delightful in every nuance and detail of their interactions. Maggie (Wiig) and Milo (Hader) weave together a safety net with which we feel comfortable exploring tragedy and complex issues.
LIKE that casual suicide thing...
The movie opens with Milo blasting music, drinking vodka and writing a suicide note (“To Whom It May Concern: See ya later”) before slitting his wrists. He then finds himself in the company of his sister, to whom he casually shrugs off his suicide attempt from the depths of a moral hangover. It’s a charming moment that is typical to their relationship. We quickly learn to love and accept Milo as a free spirit and--with a strange gut reaction we never finish processing-- trust his chaotic life choices. Even when we find ourselves with our butts clenched and hands in fists as he stands on the edge of a building- all we can think is “Eek! Nooo! Phew! That was a close one.”
This is unlike Maggie’s relationship to suicide. Maggie copes with her life through control, routine, and delicately crafting a sense of normalcy. Her first suicide attempt is interrupted by a phone call that leads her to Milo’s hospital bedside after HIS suicide attempt. She never shares the moment with her brother or husband. Instead, she proudly invites him to bear witness to her carefully constructed life: the marriage, the house, the housewife hobbies and classes. When her dark secrets are out in the open for everyone to see, Maggie reacts first with anger, and then with inevitable guilt that takes her back into a depressive cycle and the urge to end her life. It’s a weight that we as an audience carry with her.
AND THEN THERE’S that CHILD MOLESTATION THING...
We are introduced to Rich (Ty Burrell) through Milo’s perspective. We see him as an insecure man; Milo is completely dominant, almost pushy, about their relationship. It is with these terms already established that we learn about their previous relationship: A high school teacher’s romantic relationship with a 15 year old student. And we sort of accept it? As we shift in our seats uncomfortably we understand that all though we frequently think “ugh this guy” we are not meant to hate him. In fact, we are almost satisfied by Milo’s kind gesture during their last interaction. Never the less, we all take a breath of relief when Maggie’s character freaks out and addresses the severity of the situation. Because, dude, somebody fucking had too. And with both of their perspectives in our pockets, we are yet again left with a well thought out and rounded perspective of this particular child abuse representation.
The Skeleton Twins is a smart, sensible film, with brilliant performances from all actors involved and some fucking awesome gold fish symbolism. CheckThisOutBabe.com gives it a solid A-. It’s currently playing at the Century 9 San Francisco (in the Westfield Mall) and the Sundance Kabuki. Go see it, folks. You won’t regret it.