Friday 19 July 2019

The Skeleton Twins - 'one of the smartest-written and sensitively played films in months'

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins

George Byrne

(Drama/Comedy. Starring Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Boyd Holbrook, Joanna Gleason. Directed by Craig Johnson. Cert 15A)

4*

With Saturday Night Live royalty Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader heading the cast, and Ty Burrell from Modern Family on board in addition to Luke Wilson, you could probably be forgiven for thinking that The Skeleton Twins is yet another post-Apatow gagfest with the cast indulging in too much improvisation, the whole thing eventually teetering into self-indulgence.

Well, I’m delighted to say that you’d be wrong as this is one of the smartest-written and sensitively played films in months.

Wiig and Hader play twins Maggie and Milo, the pair not having spoken for over a decade but coming back together following Milo’s suicide attempt, his sister offering him a room in the house she shares with husband Lance in their New York hometown, a regular working Joe a world removed from failed actor Milo’s catty demeanour.

We gradually discover that their father committed suicide in their teens and they’re estranged from their mother, while Milo is intent on renewing a gay affair he had with an English professor during his schooldays.

There’s plenty going on, not least when Maggie embarks on an affair with her scuba instructor (Boyd Holbrook), but the interplay between Wiig and Hader is a joy to watch. They’re incredibly funny at times and going deep when they need to, not least in an almost gruesome scene when their mother arrives unexpectedly for dinner, giving us five minutes of toe-curling embarrassment.

If the film has a problem it’s that some of the screenwriting is slightly overdone, but that’s more than compensated for by the genuine warmth between the two leads as people still trying to come to terms with the real problems in life. Oh, and one scene involving the pair miming to Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now is pure gold and could actually propel that wretched track back to prominence – a small price to pay for a lovely, human movie.

WATCH: The Movie Show: George Byrne and Aoife Kelly have the lowdown on 'Interstellar' and 'The Skeleton Twins'

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