Munich — Filmfest München Film Review by Ken Macbeth Knowles

“The Skeleton Twins” is dark in moments, but never brooding. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig star in this complicated story of fraternal twins with a shared past they have tried to put behind them. Maggie (Wiig) is a dentist in Upstate New York and her twin brother Milo (Hader) is an actor in Los Angeles. Although they have not spoken with one another in nearly ten years, there might be something to twins being telepathically connected. Each of them decides to commit suicide, but the eerie thing is that they make this decision simultaneously on opposite sides of the country.

What solution does Maggie come up with when she goes to rescue her brother? New York is beautiful in autumn, so he should come home and stay with her while he sorts things out – returning to the scene of the crime, as it were. Not surprising that they are thick as thieves in their offscreen lives, Wiig and Hader sparkle with chemistry in “The Skeleton Twins.”

Director Craig Johnson presented the film early at Filmfest München and has stayed to answer questions at each screening. One of the nicer parts of smaller film festivals is the unintended intimacy. You neglect to ask that question at the official Q & A, but then find yourself standing next to the director at a party the next evening.

 Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig star in this complicated story of fraternal twins with a shared past they have tried to put behind them.
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star in this complicated story of fraternal twins with a shared past they have tried to put behind them. photo: munichFOTO

Johnson gets impressive performances out of his lead actors, and the story is quite compelling. Luckily not played for melodrama, the actors are earnest when necessary but cannot help themselves from breaking the tension with a moment of frivolity. Luke Wilson plays Maggie’s hopelessly cheerful husband, and his straight man schtick, in more ways than one, elevates both of the lead actors.

There is a lip-synching scene during an emotional moment that you will not soon forget. Johnson delighted in listing all of the 80s music he revisited while finding the perfect track for this scene. The song in the script, which was not ultimately used, was Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On”, and the director told a particularly comical anecdote about having to scrap the plan when a friend broke the news that the exact same song was pivotal to the plot of the hugely popular movie “Bridesmaids” another film starring Kristen Wiig.

Normally when you hear about a film starring former “Saturday Night Live” costars, there is a twinge of hesitation. Are they trading in on their brand and assuming that some people will. see anything with well-known names? Not that this film fits into that category remotely; it has nothing to do with the actors’ previous work. A compelling story with just enough laughter to get through the tears.

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