Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2014. Duplass Brothers Productions, Venture Forth. Screenplay by Mark Heyman, Craig Johnson. Cinematography by Reed Morano. Produced by Stephanie Langhoff, Jennifer Lee, Jacob Pechenik, Roxie Rodriguez. Music by Nathan Larson. Production Design by Ola Maslik. Costume Design by Mikaela Wohl. Film Editing by Jennifer Lee. Gotham Awards 2014. National Board of Review Awards 2014. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2014.
Attempted suicide is a great way to get reacquainted with long-lost family members, which is what happens when Bill Hader survives cutting his wrists in the bathtub and twin sister Kristen Wiig flies to L.A. from New York to take him home to recover. Once back on the east coast, Hader meets Wiig’s chipper husband (Luke Wilson, in a hilariously sincere performance) and catches up with an old friend (Ty Burrell) with whom he has a dark past. The siblings have plenty of negative shared experiences hanging over their heads, most of which they don’t know where to begin dealing with, and through the course of interactions both painful and hilarious they air out some dirty laundry and help us understand how two close siblings can go ten years without talking. To describe the film is to make it sound trite, so the magical connection between the two actors, who really do an outstanding job in every single scene, must be seen to be believed. Joanna Gleason has a superb cameo as their mother, a short scene that speaks volumes, and Craig Johnson navigates his way between dark and light moments with incredible ease. The only thing that keeps it from being a natural sibling to The Savages is a slightly contrived ending that mars the perfect spontaneity that precedes it, an unfortunate fallback on convention that deprives two actors doing such a good of effectively describing life’s impossible complications of the right to keep that feeling going until the very end.