Milo is an actor, or at least he tries to be when he’s not waiting tables. You can’t get theatrical work in L.A. without an agent, and Milo has neither. After a failed, bathtub suicide attempt, Maggie appears at her brother’s Los Angeles hospital room with a bag of cookies. The two haven’t spoken in nearly 10 years and Milo doesn’t seem to want his sister’s help (at least not with baked goods).
Milo and Maggie are twins originally from suburban New York. Suicidal tendencies run deep in their family. A father that jumped from a bridge and depressive mood swings by both brother and sister are hammered on throughout this story. It isn’t until midway into the film that we understand why these kids are so messed up. After a drop-in visit from their unaffectionate, new-age mother we start to appreciate why their father offed himself.
And then there’s that whole subject of long term estrangement from one another. Both characters posses darker, self-destructive sides that they need, though don’t always want, each other’s help with. Whether that help comes in the form of betraying a secret told in confidence or diffusing a morbidly serious situation with humorous banter is something that helps keep the story less than predictable.
When I saw two former Saturday Night Live alums up there on screen, I cringed at first. But Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader walk the line between drama and comedy, knowing on which side to fall and when. Too often, the transition from stand-up to a movie career results in the production of disappointing, slap-stick. Is it that some actors don’t have the range necessary for more dramatic roles, or are they being exploited by producers and studios who aren’t giving these people the opportunity to expand into other genres. I suppose like any complex formula, it depends.
If forced to describe this movie in a single sentence, I’d say it’s “You Can Count On Me”, but with actors and writing from the other side of the tracks.
Venue: Seattle International Film Festival, 2014
Genre: Drama, dark comedy