The supposed spiritual connection of twins engraves the opening to Craig Johnson’s stunning and compassionate sophomore film after the Mark Duplass mumblecore (that narrows it down…) True Adolescents. Failing homosexual actor Milo (Bill Hader) and dental hygienist Maggie (Kristen Wiig) are estranged siblings who both prepare to commit suicide on opposite ends of America but Maggie’s intent is stopped prematurely by the news of her brother’s attempt. Milo reluctantly packs up and moves in with Maggie and her archetypal husband (Luke Wilson) to end a decade of separation, prompting not only a reconnection but a renovation of their dysfunctional relationship. As we learn what drove them apart and ponder what has individually sunk them to suicidal depths, the concept that they were “maybe doomed from the beginning” bleakly undercuts this permanently contemplative film of unanticipated emotional depth.
The chemistry of this well versed duo is at its most electric in their stupendous dramatic turns. Still allowed time to sparkle with lighter comedic moments, including a euphorically memorable lip synch scene, these are such well measured and world class performances that announce them as actors demanding attention and acclamation. Johnson’s extraordinarily well realised film gives Wiig, Hader and Ty Burrell – playing Milo’s mysteriously cherished former school teacher – the material to thrive as flawed individuals in this sensitively controlled and developed narrative. The tonal movements and emotional beats are handled with precision as heartwarming segments harmonise with hilarity and darker turns.
Edinburgh International Film Festival, 2014.