I finally caught Craig Johnson’s Kristen Wiig-Bill Hader sibling opus “The Skeleton Twins” this afternoon, and it’s definitely up their on my list of Sundance highlights. Wiig and Hader play estranged siblings who come together after Hader’s openly gay character tries to kill himself. It’s funny and sad and joyous and melancholic all in one — a difficult mix to pull off as well as it does. And while Wiig is reliably (save maybe “Walter Mitty”) fantastic, Hader — playing someone far from Stefon — gives probably the most layered, moving performance I’ve seen all festival.
The film’s director, meanwhile, gave the best performance by a director on stage before a film this afternoon when he hilariously recounted his accidentally taking his parents to the secret screening of Lars Von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” last night.
“So last night I got invited to this special screening of a mystery movie,” Johnson said on stage before the film. “All we were told was, you know, it’s a new film by a prominent director. So I thought, this is great, it’s my parents last night in town. I’m going to get some extra tickets and we’ll go. So we settle into the Egyptian Theater and I’m thinking ‘maybe it’s new Wes Anderson movie. My Mom will love that!’ But then John Cooper gets up there and says ‘Ladies and gentleman, Lars Von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac.’ So… For those of you who don’t know, that’s the movie with real sex and penetration and Shia LaBeouf. So I turn to my Mom and I sort of explain what this is and am like ‘clearly you guys are going to leave, right, because this is weird.’ And my Mom says ‘actually, I kind of want to see it.’ So, conundrum, because I want to see it too. But there’s no fucking way I’m watching ‘Nymphomaniac’ sitting next to my parents. So I had some friends so lucky I shifted seats and put a buffer of two seats as I watched ‘Nymphomaniac’ with my parents. I actually thought it was pretty good. It was funny and weird. So I afterwards I went up to my parents — it was a little awkward — and my Mom was like ‘oh, it was very provocative and interesting.’ My Dad was a little more reserved. He was like ‘yeah, yeah, it was interesting… but I was really glad I wasn’t sitting next to you.’ So thank you to Sundance for the single weirdest movie experience of my entire life.”
Johnson’s story reasonably drew as much laughter from the audience as his film did subsequently — a compliment in both regards.