FilmIFFBostonReview

IFFBoston: Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader Get Dramatic in “The Skeleton Twins”

Michelle Douvris ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in Skeleton Twins. Photo Credit: Reed Morano/Sundance Institute.
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in Skeleton Twins. Photo Credit: Reed Morano/Sundance Institute.

From the Target Lady to Stefon, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader have been making people laugh with their comedic antics on SNL and beyond for years. So it may surprise some that the duo has teamed up this time for not a funny film, but a poignant drama.

Not to be misunderstood, The Skeleton Twins is not a gritty, depressing indie. It’s dark for sure, but Wiig and Hader manage to bring some lightness to what would otherwise be a downer of a film. Instead of allowing subjects like suicide, sex addiction, and depression to create a somber tone, director Craig Johnson acknowledges that life is neither a clean-cut drama nor a clean-cut comedy; there are heavy doses of both. Johnson utilizes his lead actors to showcase this beautifully, creating a cinematic experience that ranges from heartbreaking to heartwarming, sometimes within the same scene.

 Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in Skeleton Twins. Photo Credit: Reed Morano/Sundance Institute.
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in Skeleton Twins. Photo Credit: Reed Morano/Sundance Institute.

The concept is fairly simple: two estranged twin siblings are both facing a dark time in their lives and fate brings them together to reflect on what brought them down their respective paths. This is certainly not a plot-driven film, making the characters and their relationships the story’s focus. Kristen Wiig puts in a fantastic performance as Maggie, but Bill Hader is the one who deserves all the attention. Hader takes the stereotypical role as Milo and breathes life into him, showing that he clearly needs to take on more dramatic projects. It is astonishing to watch an exuberant comedic actor tackle a darker role with such subtlety and emotional depth. Hader disappears into the role and delivers a heart-wrenching performance that audiences will have no trouble rooting for.

Besides the two leads, the supporting cast brings their game as well. Luke Wilson earns some laughs as Maggie’s overly optimistic husband Lance, and Ty Burrell is a welcome addition as an important person from Milo’s past. Both characters are very influential in showing us why Maggie and Milo are the people they have become. Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman have crafted a brilliant screenplay that intertwines all these characters into a realistic story about realizing one’s self worth. In fact, the film took home the top screenwriting award at Sundance earlier this year. If you’re looking to see a thought-provoking movie that will also make you laugh, The Skeleton Twins should be on your radar when it hits theaters this September.

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