“Did that feel a bit weird to you? That you and I went to watch that movie?” I asked my sister as we emerged from The Skeleton Twins.
See, she and I don’t go to the movies together very often, since we live in different cities. We only saw The Skeleton Twins by accident; the movie that we had been planning to see had been sold out.
Why would it be weird, though? Well. The Skeleton Twins is about a gay guy and his sister.
“Yeah, I did feel a bit weird” I agreed with her nod. “Let’s go get a drink.”
Although The Skeleton Twins stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader (of Saturday Night Live fame), and despite the promotional posters branding it as “Hilarious!”, this movie is not a comedy.
It is not a comedy -- but it is a great movie. Writer/director Craig Johnson has created a detailed and nuanced movie about a very damaged family and the struggles they face trying to come to terms with themselves and each other, and somehow move forward with their lives.
Wiig and Hader play the sister and brother and they handle these extraordinarily difficult roles perfectly.
In supporting roles, Luke Wilson nails it as the "labrador" husband, Joanna Gleason wrings the most out of her brief appearance as the mother, but Ty Burrell isn't quite given enough to work with to distance himself from his Modern Family fathercharacter.
It’s difficult to talk in any detail about the plot without spoiling the clever construction of the storytelling, small details revealed as the movie unfolds, building to a deeper understanding and empathy of how these characters became people that are struggling to hold on to any sense of purpose or certainty in their lives.
Over dinner, my sister and I were inspired to share stories of pain and sadness, talking about some of the low points in our lives. It sounds a bit morbid but it was actually a good, authentic conversation that helped us both understand each other a bit better. It was also a good reminder about how things that felt so bad and bleak at one stage in our lives can fade into insignificance with the passage of time.
Sometimes life doesn’t quite work out as you had hoped, as you had planned, as you had dreamed. Somehow you have to find a way through that. Sometimes your family can be an unlikely source of strength.
Go see this movie. Not many laughs, do it for the great storytelling -- and maybe some important conversation afterwards.