Sundance 2014: The Skeleton Twins reaction

For a movie about suicide, The Skeleton Twins is hilarious. But it’s also not really a comedy.

The second feature from Craig Johnson, co-written with Mark Heyman (who penned Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan ), and produced by the Duplass brothers, The Skeleton Twins sees brother and sister Maggie and Milo (Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader) reunited after a ten year estrangement when Milo unsuccessfully attempts suicide. The Skeleton Twins – so named, presumably, for their death tattoos, matching key rings given to them by the father who killed himself when the two were just 14-years-old and the contents of their closets – share history and neuroses. While gay out of work actor Milo might appear more volatile than married homemaker Maggie, we soon see they’re equally screwed up.

Wiig and Hader are both brilliant. Highly sympathetic despite obvious flaws, with convincing chemistry as siblings (including one impossibly enjoyable lip-sync routine), it’s their performances along with the strength, sincerity and subtlety of the writing that lifts this well away from shoe gazing mumblecore.

With more in common with Little Miss Sunshine than Bridesmaids, The Skeleton Twins jerks tears along with laughs and is unafraid of moral ambiguity throughout. Boasting excellent supporting turns from Luke Wilson as Maggie’s wholesome, outdoorsy husband and Ty Burrell as Milo’s former lover, The Skeleton Twins barely puts a foot wrong. Already picked up by Sony Worldwide, on paper the subject matter is dark and difficult but in reality this movie is likely to cross well into the mainstream and make dents in next year’s top ten lists.

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Rosie is the former editor of Total Film, before she moved to be the Special Edition Editor for the magazine group at Future. After that she became the Movies Editor at Digital Spy, and now she's the UK Editor of Den of Geek. She's an experienced movie and TV journalist, with a particular passion for horror.