The Skeleton Twins – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

the skeleton twinsThe Skeleton Twins – 3/5 – This is a review for an indie film that came out late last year.  At the heart of any film in the indie realm is the ‘down to earth’ approach to storytelling and tone.  There is a sense to keep the film grounded, no matter the subject matter or particular genre the film falls in.  The Skeleton Twins is a pseudo-family drama that involves really dark themes.  Even in that darkly premise, it also uses some good satirical and dry humor.  In the end, The Skeleton Twins is a film that has a lot of upsides, but fails to capture the essence of a really good indie flick.

Premise: After a failed suicide attempt; estrange twins reunite that will bring old memories to the forefront.  Being together for the first time in 10 years, the possibilities of something good might come, if they can etch out the pain of the past.

The film’s main characters follow a brother and sister combo.  In those roles you have:

Bill Hader as Milo Dean

Kristen Wiig as Maggie Dean

Known for their comical roles and on stage comedic hijinx; they turn the page by taking on these roles of ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ in this film.  Being more drama influenced, you get to see these two push their acting skill and achieve something on a personal level.  As Milo and Maggie Dean, the two create siblings that have deep and dark emotional back history; histories that cause them to fall away into loneliness and latch on to each other with delightful charm.  In the bittersweet complexion of their relationship, you notice real heart when things seem to bottle down to the worse.  In their darkest hours, you see the brightest acting scenarios within their ‘brother/sister’ dynamic.  You feel authentic appeal in their relationship.  That purity is a testament to their acting skills.  Outside of these two, you have some known names in the supporting cast.  You have:

Luke Wilson as Lance (Maggie’s Husband)

Ty Burrell as Rich (Teacher of Milo’s past)

Joanna Geason as Judy (Milo and Maggie’s Mother)

In these roles they do a good job in portraying the good and bad aspects of Milo and Maggie’s back history or current lives.  As the film digs deeper (and layers are peeled back), their relevance are felt within those ripples.  They help provide worth to the emotional turmoil that the siblings go through in this film.  Even for the background story, as individual they don’t stand out to much.  These actors are left more as pawns for the story than real characters.

The direction of the film follows a traditional path of an indie film; especially one that deals with ‘family issues’.  Like most Indie’s, they have an ‘event’ that triggers within the premise that allows the main character or characters to head for the ‘area/place’ for the plot to start.  From there, it plays along a very typical path:

1. Rekindling old memories (good and bad)

2. Scenes of ‘harmony’ followed by ‘familiar conflicts’

3. Revelation of truth/consequential happily ending.

There is no deviation from this path in this film.  As the film starts, Maggie and Milo are brought back together because of (trigger event) Milo’s attempted suicide.  From here, Maggie and Milo reconnect after being apart for 10 years.  The first act of the film begins with Maggie bring Milo to live with her back in their hometown in upstate New York.  The first act is a mixture of ‘awkward’ rekindling with some fragmented scenic moments.  The awkward moments help develop the ‘dark comedy’ innuendos.  This is the high point of the first act, as most of it gets lost in the fragmented misdirection of some supposed scenes.  You get these ‘forced’ scenes of past figures of Milo and Maggie lives.  These scenes would have helped the film if it wasn’t for the cliché elements of the typical relationship scandals, which is further watered down by the predictable nature and cheating factors within them.  All plays typical like any kind of melodrama, causing the ‘indie’ feel of the film to fade.  Eventually, the film takes a turn for the better when it heads into the second act.  Here, the focus of the story turns towards the relationship of the siblings.  That ‘brother/sister’ dynamic helps exude purpose for the audience and the two leads (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig).  When this happens, you are led down the path of what makes indie film’s genuine.  From the whimsical situations, quirky moments and funny dialogue/interactions that happen; it brings everything down-to-earth.  That feeling helps to shed light on the raw humanity within these flaw humans, knowing that even for the depression, suicidal thoughts and broken feelings of marriage and family, there is still some wonderful moments that lead to that hope for something good to come.  They begin to learn (gradually) they must face truths head on.   Once all the layers of both characters get peeled within the third act, all those truths collide in one specific ‘revelation scene’ between Milo and Maggie.  Here, consequential moments lead to cliché circumstances for both Maggie and Milo.  Even for those clichés, they notice their lives depend on how each make ‘decisive’ choices in their lives from that moment.  Once we get to the climax, it leaves you with a bittersweet feeling; a rekindling of moments of something old for something new.  You get to find out that their flaws are ‘grounded’ on a human scale, one where you can feel the flaws and know that healing can and will eventually come for them.

The visuals are typical to the ‘grounded/down-to-earth’ aura found within an indie film.  With the setting being an upstate New York town, you get a wholesome feeling throughout.  This helps add color and broad sensations for the actors and specific moments that happen in the story.  The score really is non-existent for most of this film.  Even for the ‘lack thereof’ approach, there is one specific moment where the music is delightful and exudes emotional fervor; but nothing before or after is noteworthy.

The Skeleton Twins is a fun and original indie film.  There’s a lot of upside because of the great characters and dynamic between Bill Hader and Kristen Wig.  There believable relationship helps ease you in; even if the rest of the film falls flat.  If you’re a fan of these two or like a good indie film, check this out as a rental.  It is a good time at home with family or friends.

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