The Skeleton Twins: Indie Film Empties All Skeletons From the Closet


The film world is definitely a better place because of independent filmmakers and producers. I think we’d be totally lost in the monotony of Hollywood formulaic blockbusters, predictable sappy endings and generic two-dimensional characters. This is why I live for the independent films, explaining the happiness that sweeps over me when I happen to stumble across one of these fantastically brilliant films that leaves an indelible mark on my soul.

Just before the holiday break, I rented via Redbox a screenwriting award winner and dramedy that took 10 years to write. The Skeleton Twins by writers Craig Johnson (also director) and Mark Heyman was originally turned down by Sundance Institute Screenwriting Lab three times and ironically later discovered at Sundance after the film’s completion. Immediately, the cadence and black comedic tone of the film highlighted family dysfunction and mental health in the same way that Silver Linings Playbook did, a film I also thoroughly enjoyed because it stayed true to the original novel by Matthew Quick, which currently remains one of my favorite books.

The Skeleton Twins is a refreshingly honest portrayal of the darker side to the very human struggle to love, be loved and to not necessarily seek manic bliss but relatively simple and uncomplicated happiness.

29-skeleton-twinsThe Synopsis:

After 10 years of not seeing one another, fraternal twins Milo Dean (Bill Hader) and Maggie Dean (Kristin Wiig) reunite serendipitously as they both unknowingly attempt to off themselves at nearly the same exact time. Call it a “twin connection” or a dark bond that winds up keeping the two alive, but they find themselves making amends over past discretion in order to face personal struggles by rekindling their relationship, learning to love themselves as well as each other again and accepting that, well, they’re both more than a little fucked up.

The film explores the subtleties of human behavior while exposing the natural fabric of black humor in even the worst of life’s moments. Relationships are difficult as it is and so this film uses the art of “less is more” to allow the audience to unravel a history of suicide in the family’s past and how childhood trauma affected both Milo and Maggie in their adult years. Milo, who is gay, struggles with his feelings and a complicated relationship with an old teacher who claims he’s “straight” yet keeps his relationship with Milo in the closet in order to hang on to the illusion of a relationship with a woman while maintaining the image of being a “good father” to his teenage son.

This only fuels feelings of unworthiness and rejection as Milo struggles to face the truth of this unrequited love that he keeps secret from his sister. Though Maggie, regardless of how perfect her relationship is with her flawless and sweet husband (Luke Wilson); she seems to have the desire to introduce infidelity into her marriage in order to sabotage any chance of having a happy or seemingly perfect marriage.

The film is above all else a human story about honesty, being true to one’s self and living a life that reflects the best of what matters most. It offers reality over contrived plot twists and blends subtleness, focusing on complex, rich and memorable characters rather than theatrical over-acting, unnecessary plot twists and generic, unoriginal story lines. The film leaves you reflecting on your own personal weaknesses, mental well-being and what ultimately makes us “happy.”

My Redbox Vote: Definitely worth $1.50, as the film makes you wish you watched it in theaters. This film is not only worth renting, but owning.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87% which equates to 4.5 stars.

About Sonyo Estavillo

I am a creative professional with extensive project experience from concept to development (scripted and non-scripted). My talents are diverse and include: producing, directing, production management, videography, social media/viral marketing, research, non-linear editing, story development, and content writing. *Masters in Television, Radio, & Film @ Newhouse, Syracuse University *Bachelors in Film Production @ CSULB

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *