The Skeleton Twins is the kind of film which suffers because I cannot totally judge it in a vacuum. On its own, it would still be a flawed film, but in the greater context of modern cinema, it stands as yet another indie comedy-drama about dysfunctional middle-class characters, played by hitherto largely comedic actors, who go through their quotidian crises before something like a happy ending. Here, though, the dysfunctions are poorly explored, the crises seem contrived, and the sort-of-happy ending leaves more than a few story threads dangling. The acting (and, to my surprise, the direction) is good enough to make it a *** film, but the script lets it down.
I may be at a bit of a disadvantage with Gone Girl. I’d only recently read Gillian Flynn’s novel, with its twists and turns and wicked cleverness still fresh in my mind. So seeing the film, expertly made, but so ruthlessly paced and streamlined that at times it felt abbreviated, I couldn’t help but think of moments of missed, of lines these perfectly cast actors didn’t deliver. And, even stepping back, I can see there are moments where the full-throttle pace (it’s a quick, quick 149 minutes) does gloss over parts of the plot which, on the page, were quite deliberately crafted.
And yet the pacing has its own benefits: from the first, the film feels like some kind of bad dream, a perfect storm of suspicion and good planning and bad luck which, to the pitch-black ending, we never leave.