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film review

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in The Skeleton TwinsCourtesy of Skeleton Twins, LLC.

Part of a somewhat overworked Sundance genre – the family-reunion, bitter-coated sugar pill – The Skeleton Twins rises above the usual poignant/wacky balancing act, thanks to incisive performances from Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as troubled siblings who reunite after 10 years.

Dental hygienist Maggie is contemplating a pill overdose when she gets a call that brother Milo is in hospital after slashing his wrists in his own suicide attempt. She invites him to convalesce with her at her upstate New York home, where she lives with her good-hearted lunk of a husband, Lance (an excellent Luke Wilson), whom she compulsively cheats on with the instructors of her adult-education classes.

The twins' childhood traumas and the story of their separation essentially serve as a backdrop to showcase the characters' humour and love for each other, climaxing in Milo's booty-shaking lip-synch to Starship's effusive eighties anthem, Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now.

The transitions between sincere and absurd are relatively seamless and Craig Johnson's unfussy direction serves as a fine showcase for the two SNL veterans to demonstrate how their comic shorthand plays equally well in a slightly darker register.