Reviews: The Skeleton Twins, Say When, Leviathan, Out of Here
Reviewed this week are The Skeleton Twins, Say When, Leviathan, Out of Here.
The Skeleton Twins (15A, 93mins) 4 Stars
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader have been comrades in arms on Saturday Night Live for years, and in Craig Johnson's likeable comic drama Skeleton Twins their deep understanding is instantly obvious. Maggie (Wiig) is living in upstate New York with her husband Lance (Luke Wilson) when she gets word from a Los Angeles hospital that her brother Milo (Hader) has attempted suicide.
She hasn't seen him in a decade, but asks Milo to come stay with her in New York. They're bound by tragedies and bad memories that get violent airings as their past comes bubbling to the surface. Craig Johnson's amusing screenplay is laden down at times by clumsy symbolism, much of it involving goldfish, and the theme of suicide is rather glibly used. But Hader and Wiig are fantastic together, moving easily between hilarious arguments and more sincere exchanges. In Skeleton Twins the comedy is always natural: it's the tragedies that feel forced.
Say When (15A, 99mins) 3 Stars
Lynn Shelton's Say When is a fluffy, giddy, self-consciously indie comic drama that has some nice moments and doesn't outstay its welcome. And Keira Knightley is less annoying than she can be playing a 28-year-old woman who's never quite grown up. College graduate Megan has a menial job at her dad's accounting firm and hides out in a long relationship that clearly bores her.
When her drippy boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) proposes, Megan goes into a tailspin and decides to run away from it all. A few days previously she'd met a quirky teen called Annika (Chloe Moretz), and now asks if she can crash in her bedroom. This development worries Annika's single father, Craig (Sam Rockwell), but pretty soon he and Megan begin to hit it off. Mildly amusing and thoroughly predictable, Say When is well acted overall, and Gretchen Mol is outstanding in a brief cameo as Annika's estranged and useless mother.
Leviathan (No Cert, IFI, 140mins) 5 stars
Andrey Zvyaginstev's beautifully photographed drama Leviathan uses a land dispute in a bleak coastal town to paint a grim picture of a country mired in dysfunction. Shot along the chilly shores of the Barents Seaww, Leviathan stars Aleksei Serebryakov as Nikolay, a local handyman who lives with his young wife and teenage son in a quaint wooden house by the sea.
It's a picturesque spot, and the local mayor, Vadim (Roman Madyanov) wants to buy it for a hotel development. But when Nikolay rejects Vadim's paltry offer, the cunning and corrupt politician begins turning the screw. Nikolay asks for help from Dmitriy (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), an old army buddy who's now a high-flying Moscow lawyer. But he will do a lot more harm than good.
Leviathan is a terrific film, as good in its way as Zvyaginstev's last feature, Elena. Both films offer unflattering insights into contemporary Russian life, and this one mixes salty humour, human tragedy and blithe corruption with consummate ease. A recurring doomed whale metaphor could refer to many things, but probably represents poor old mother Russia.
Out of Here (15A, 79mins) 3 Stars
And finally, Donal Foreman's nicely made Irish film Out of Here explores a depressingly familiar theme. Recent emigrant Ciaran (Fionn Walton) has returned to Dublin for a visit, and wanders the streets as disconsolate as Hamlet, full of suppressed bitterness about the place he was forced to leave. A gentle, moody, deliberately meandering film, Out of Here catches perfectly the feeling of displacement that afflicts the émigré, and is a promising feature début.
The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch); The Drop (Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini); Standby (Brian Gleeson); Third Person (Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis).