I’ve been looking forward to this film for a long time. Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader as depressed siblings reuniting after ten years apart. Luke Wilson as Wiig’s sunshiny husband. Joanna Gleason as their spacy, new-age mother. Ty Burrell as an old flame of Hader’s. And, yes, it’s as great as it sounds. I have no problem at all calling this Hader’s best performance to date; as a fellow Tulsan, I’ve kept an eye on his career and I’m glad to see this performance from him. Wiig is also really wonderful and Luke Wilson, a guy who doesn’t get nearly enough work for my tastes, is absolutely stupendous. The film really goes from comedy to drama and back again with great facility. When the film is funny, as in a late night nitrous session in a closed Dentist’s office, it’s absolutely hilarious. When the film is serious, as in the shocking opening scenes of attempted suicide, it’s compelling and effecting. The film really gets a lot about depression absolutely right; Wiig in particular just nails the affectless stare of severe depression - I know the stare from seeing it in the mirror and this is maybe as good a film about depression as I’ve seen. The film is artfully directed and it left me still puzzling out the symbolisms on the drive home (I still don’t know exactly what all the water imagery was about, but whatever). It really is a wonderful movie, character driven, smart, sensitive, brutally dark and hysterically funny. The way the script gets into all the characters is great; they all start as broad stereotypes and I outlined them as such above, but the script slowly peels back layers until you see the beating hearts of the people. The people in this movie just feel very real and the film isn’t afraid to make you uncomfortable in a lot of ways; the film is more than frank about suicide, depression, grief, sexual abuse and infidelity and, even if the film is never overly graphic, the scenes dealing with these issues really hit home. The ending is quite brilliant really; it resists the easy resolutions we might have gotten had this been a more Hollywood film. Things aren’t totally fixed for our titular twins and probably never will be as this movie closes, but somehow that balance between hope and despair feels absolutely perfect. Great, great movie. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – sensitive, probing script and exquisite performances from entire ensemble allow this film to handle adult issues in an adult way, focus on characters and be both funny and bleak. 4 stars.