Friday, September 26
REVIEW: The Skeleton Twins
Directed by Craig Johnson
1 hour 33 minutes
From Roadside Attractions
Act One, Scene One. A gay man living in Los Angeles gets into the bathtub and soon blood is filling the tub. He's looking to check out. Scene Two. Back east a woman answers the phone and is told her brother in Los Angeles attempted to kill himself but he is ok and recovering in the hospital. The camera pans down and she has more than enough pills in her hand as she plans to kill herself.
It was a lucky call. She soon finds herself in his hospital room... the first time they have talked in 10 years. She haltingly tells him he could come back home with her until such time as he is ready to move on. We know that they know it may not all quite work out so well.
My lips are sealed as to how it does, in fact, work out but I sure enjoyed the trip getting there. As co-written by the director, Craig Johnson, and Mark Herman, these characters are given words to say that make them so natural (do not interchange with normal... whatever that is) and transparent in bringing their very serious issues to the forefront. Make no mistake, this is a troubled pair. Both have sexual stories that are delivered to us in ways that I admire. No cop-outs. No going with popular public opinion.
The brother has a zany-like nature which may be why his trip back to reality seems more on the upswing than hers. She seems almost opposed to being happy. I love how one day she was down and he helps her along and the next day the roles have reversed. So lovely to see in siblings when it happens. I loved how that piece was presented.
He is a failed actor and apparently a relationship has ended. She is in a marriage with a good man... really too good for her. She has a thing with secrets and of course they involve some of her more serious flaws. The brother wants to see a mysterious man from his past and in doing so, may be in for more than he bargained for. Together they bonded in the respect that they shared a father who committed suicide and a mother they both quite dislike.
These characters didn't feel like characters at all. I thought of them as real flesh and blood people that I know or have known... fundamentally good, decent people but who are damaged and no longer making healthy choices. We root for them which is part of the appeal of the film.
The writing is one thing that makes these characters rather leap off the screen but the solid acting is another. I gulp as I make another confession to you. Remember in my last review when I said I have never seen Tina Fey on SNL nor had I seen 30 Rock? I did admit to seeing her doing Sarah Palin impressions via political show clips and hosting awards shows. Well, er... um... gulp, I can't even say that about Bill Hader and Kirsten Wiig. I have never seen either do anything at all. Well, I could have added earlier that I have not seen SNL at all since the days of Belushi, Radner, Murray and crowd. Yes, I know that Hader and Wiig were on that and that they've worked together on other stuff but this was a first for me. (And yes, I could just poke my eyes out that I miss her in Bridesmaids... but it's something that I have to live with everyday.)
Anyway, I would have to assume that most or all of everything they've done together has been comedy. And while there is some very amusing comedy (hats off to both for the lip-syncing of the 1980s Jefferson Starship's, Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now), there is some dark stuff here and these two rose to the challenge of the drama of it all. They sure play well off one another. Glad I finally got to meet them. We shall stay in touch.
I was equally impressed with Luke Wilson as the good-guy husband and Ty Burrell (another whose work I've never seen... noooo not even Modern Family) as the mysterious friend from the past. Each one was a super performance.
This was playing at our art house and if you have one (or more) in your city, I hope you'll see it. It is likely not to gather a large audience, which is a shame. It's a well-done little film.
From 20th Century Fox