Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are irreplaceably perfectly cast as fraternal twins brought back together after a decade’s separation to confront their larger life choices, not to mention each other, in the sparse beauty of winter in upstate New York.
Wiig’s marriage to loving but semi clueless husband Luke Wilson is failing and Hader is a tragic gay man with suicidal tendencies, sent home for his own safety after ten years with little to show for them in New York City.
It would be all too easy for the two leads to allow themselves to simply mutate into some of the character roles they each crafted so entertainingly as co-cast members on “Saturday Night Live”, but Wiig and Hader neatly sidestep that trap and instead give us a couple of siblings we root for in the face of all that confronts them.
Wilson’s own supporting performance is not without its little gems of characterization and special kudos should not be overlooked for costume and makeup here.
But what makes this movie special is the remarkable restraint that perfectly permits these characters to convince the audience to care.
Not without some dark moments of its own, this film still manages to alternate the light and the dark and several of the best moments allow us to laugh deeply even as our heartstrings are being twisted by the feather light touch of both the direction and screenplay.
Hader and Wiig’s lip-synched performance of Jefferson Starship’s “Heart to Heart” is one of the must-see moments of the film as is the Halloween night sequence where Wiig dresses up as a cowgirl and Hader comes out in drag (sorry) complete with earrings, full-length gown, lipstick, eye shadow and beehive wig.
Steel yourself for the sadder stuff and celebrate the comedy.
Just like life.
(4.5 out of 5 stars)