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By Kate “One Take Kate” Taylor
Screw ups. If you’ve ever been one, live with one, have one in your family or circle of friends then this is the movie for you. The Skeleton Twins directed by Craig Johnson and starring ‘Saturday Night Live’ alums Bill Hader (Superbad, the ‘Aw that guy’ from loads of movies you like) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids); carries the atmosphere, of that weird limbo time that falls around you after you lose a loved one – a sort of a crushing numbness coupled with a hyper sense of emotional intelligence.
Milo (Hader) and Maggie (Wiig), our lovable screw ups and twins from the title; find themselves after yet another tragic moment in their long suffering histories, thrown together after ten years with no contact. We get to sit in on their at first awkward, cold interactions that swell with emotion as they ride through trust, regained love, confession and betrayal. Hader and Wiig are sublime, giving real grit to the scrambled WTF’s of Milo and Maggie’s childhoods; that are now coming home to roost as they are forced to co-exist suddenly, back in their small hometown. It’s bleak yet brilliant and certainly for acquired tastes, make no mistakes though this is an excellent very black and dry comedy expertly dished out by two actors who’ve created much sillier and irreverent laughs together on SNL for years and in indie hit ‘Adventureland’. Star turns from Luke Wilson as Maggie’s unsuspecting Husband Lance, Ty Burrell (Modern Family) as Milo’s mysterious former English teacher or the selfish Mother of the twins, Joanna Gleason (Last Vegas); add emotional depth to a film that’s not afraid to dive deeper into the seedier secrets of family life.
There’s lots of levity in this film too though! All those delicious moments of family secret language that make you giggle are displayed, all these held back laughs and stifled hugs are incredibly moving to see. Ultimately though, in this era of Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync comps; if you’re not won over by Milo’s rendition of ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ by Starship then you’re a lost cause on this one. Academic Area: The Skeleton Twins written by Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson; won Best Screenplay at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, I think one of the main reasons it’s picked up this accolade is due to its use of motifs. Motif in film is somewhat of a catch-all term; ideas around motifs at play in The Skeleton Twins include repetition, flashbacks, the idea of book-ending and the use of privileged information. Motifs become a kind of a roadmap to the narrative of the film you’re watching, giving you little street signs to help identify things you’re supposed to connect up later for cinematic pay-off. Flashbacks are one huge way to do this, but within some of the flashbacks of this film there are items that pop up later that are of significance to the twins; Hitchcock used to call these ‘special items’ a MacGuffin. Once you check out what the MacGuffin in The Skeleton Twins is, then a lot of things will fall into place and cleverly it’s not totally rendered how important this item is until the end of the film.