Talkin bout The Skeleton Twins. Kind of spoilery?
Bill Hader delivers a truly special performance in Skeleton Twins. Kristen Wiig is also very good.
The film itself is uneven in every other notable way - the dialogue, the cinematography, the tone, the camerawork, and the story.
I couldn't help thinking there was a transcendent movie to be made here, and that it just didn't end up getting made.
It feels like there were multiple people involved, each with different visions for how this should end up - one pulling for a straightforward but well-acted family dysfunction dramedy, one for a troublingly dark comedy, one for an artfully shot mood piece, one for a meditation on depression and suicide, etc.
All of these visions are jumbled up to create the final product and I wish one of those visions had won. Any of them.
Thankfully, Hader's performance is beautiful. At first blush, I thought it was great. He is funny, likable, charismatic, and interesting. I have since spent more time reflecting on his performance, and I think it's actually better than it seems at first.
Hader reminded me of Will Forte's turn in the excellent Nebraska, last year's comedian-turned-serious performance. Nebraska is a much better film than The Skeleton Twins, but Hader's performance bests Forte's.
Hader is probably the best impressionist currently working in mainstream comedy. In The Skeleton Twins, he plays a troubled gay man. The character could have easily slipped into the "manic but likable gay hurricane" trope, and nobody would have blinked.
His Milo's charisma, pain, thoughts, feelings, mannerisms, and depression are all incredibly subtle. It's this subtlety that makes this performance surprising and wonderful. It's not a stretch to believe he will transition into more serious roles and grow as an actor, using his comedy skills to add depth (and pain!) like Bill Murray has so spectacularly done before him.
This could have been a truly special film if the script was as brave and fresh as Hader's performance. It's still a pretty good movie. It could have been much more than that.
Check out The Skeleton Twins if you love Bill Hader.