In the wonderful Skeleton Twins, Bill Hader plays a very different character from his hilarious Saturday Night Live character, Stefon, the NYC event correspondent that always had Seth Meyers cracking up on Weekend Update.
Yet, this was probably a wonderful training ground for the role he so completely embodies in Craig Johnson’s film. The chemistry he has with his fellow SNL alumni, Kristen Wiig, makes their portrayal of twins ring true right from the start. That this relationship is so tender and haunted, makes the moments of comedy between the two all the more poignant. Kristen Wiig is an absolute revelation in her role as a woman so wounded by her past that she sabotages all that is good in her life. She wears no make-up and her face reveals the pain and terror her character feels. Her performance is raw and emotional.
Shot beautifully in fall colors in small town New York, the dress-up of Halloween and the gift of skeletons echo the hidden shame of suicide and the long shadow that their father’s death has cast. The story unfolds in moments of discovery and tragedy with flashbacks to the closeness that they felt as children As the audience waits in anticipation for the comedic bits that are so much fun with such skilled performers, we are drawn into the emotional spiderweb of these brittle, broken adults. Dancing in the shadows of these small town lives, the lies and intrigue are finally revealed.
This is Craig Johnson’s second feature (True Adolescents) and he directed it from a script he co-wrote with Mark Heyman. Mark Duplass starred in his first film and ex-produced this one with his brother, Jay Duplass. The soundtrack by Nathan Larson is perfect and the cinematography (Reed Morano) captured the chill and thrill of Halloween. There were great turns by Luke Wilson as the loving husband and Ty Burrell is amazing as the high school teacher living a closeted life.
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader were at the screening of Skeleton Twins at the San Francisco International Film Festival with the Craig Johnson. No tricks–it was a treat!
Rating: 4 Halloween cocktails out of 5
Bechdel Rating: Passes