A true story gets its cinematic adaptation with The Silent Twins. This biographical drama follows June and Jennifer Gibbons, two twin sisters who only speak with each other and not to the rest of the world. It opens with the characters speaking vibrantly to each other but quickly changes to show that their interactions are internal. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie never rises above this creativity. The Silent Twins is a well-directed but uninteresting story that does not deliver on the promise of the premise.
There are many aspects to appreciate about a film like The Silent Twins. A movie without merit does not simply have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. There are positive aspects to the film, such as Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s direction. She elevates the screenplay beyond what it is on the page, using a solid vision and style to tell this real-life story. Her use of cool lighting in the film perfectly complements the narrative’s dark, tragic nature. It is easy to notice whenever the lighting becomes warm and Smoczyńska uses that contrast excellently. She and cinematographer Jakub Kijowski create a well-shot film with a lot of visual storytelling.
Furthermore, the idea of a story where the main characters do not speak to anyone but themselves is promising. There is a lot that a filmmaker can do with silence, but the screenplay never delivers. The fact that the Gibbons twins are both writers who don’t express themselves through words but works of fiction has a lot of possible staying power. Unfortunately, the film does not get a lot of mileage out of its stop-motion storytelling sequences, never utilizing the emotion and drama that can come from this premise.
The Silent Twins never fully dives into the drama that can arise between parents who cannot communicate with their children. There are a few tragic, well-acted scenes, but the movie doesn’t lean into these sentiments enough to make a compelling narrative. Once the characters and conflicts are established, the film runs out of things to say. As a result, there isn’t enough meat on the bones of this story to justify a feature film. Instead, this movie tells a story you would rather learn about in a five-minute documentary video on YouTube, instead of a feature that runs for nearly two hours.
While the Gibbons twins are fascinating by nature, the movie surrounding them is pretty unremarkable. There is a strange romance storyline that hardly leads to any conflict. The filmmakers wanted you to feel pity for how society treats the twins, but there isn’t enough nuance in the screenplay to make the audience care for them. It’s challenging to build an emotional attachment to two characters who barely speak, and The Silent Twins never lands the pathos it pursues. The strongest elements of this film are Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance’s phenomenal, subdued performances as the twins.
At best, The Silent Twins can be a well-crafted tragedy with inventive camera movements and direction. At worst, it is a lethargic film, grasping at straws to tell a story that does not feel emotionally powerful. Even the ending, which features an intriguing event, feels thematically empty. The surface-level telling of this real-life story never warrants a movie that ends up worth watching. As a result, there is nothing about this film worth recommending, even if it has a gripping story behind it.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 4 equates to “Poor.” The negatives overweigh the positive aspects making it a struggle to get through.
Disclosure: The critic attended a press screening for ComingSoon’s The Silent Twins review.
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