7/10 The true story of June and Jennifer Gibbons, “The Silent Twins” surprised me with its strong leading performances and some wonderful direction from Agnieszka Smoczynska, making her English language debut. This story is fascinating and deals with identical twins who grew up in Wales and who only spoke to each other in private. A combination of being bullied in their early school days (they were the only black family in their community) plus speaking their language, a sped-up Bajan Creole, made it extremely difficult for people to even understand what they were saying when they did briefly speak. They finally began to only speak to each other and only in private whispers so no one else could hear them. Upon reaching their teenage years, they got into some trouble with the law and were institutionalized. I won’t go into what happens next due to spoilers but I will say that their story is equal parts fascinating and tragic. The girls would write stories, poems, novels, etc. to creatively express themselves in non-verbal ways. Instead of the film being completely straight forward and only using one style, Smoczynska wisely incorporates things like animation to show the stories that the girls would dream up. The visuals coming to life in an almost hallucination way was brilliantly utilized. Both the girls’ stories and their experiences when drunk and/or high were shown beautifully, making the visuals one of the film’s greatest strengths. The twins are played by Letitia Wright (June) and Tamara Lawrance (Jennifer) and both actresses are phenomenal, giving some of their best performances to date. I’ve been a fan of Wright for years now but hadn’t seen much of Lawrence’s work but was incredibly happy with their combined work here. The film covers delicate subject matter but Andrea Seigel’s script, along with the direction, is able to handle the story gracefully. This is certainly light years ahead of Seigel’s previous screenwriting effort, “Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie”. I’m happy to see her writing greatly improve over the years. The film’s score from Marcin Macuk and Zuzanna Wrońska wonderfully establishes the tone ranging from mythical, fantastical imagination sequences to heart breaking despair of being locked away and often separated from loved ones. The score is low key, not stealing the spotlight and overshadowing the visuals or performances but it expertly enhances everything on screen. The production and costume design also bring the time period to life and the soundtrack aids in the effort as well. As for what didn’t work, there were certain minor changes to the truth that didn’t need to be changed. Keeping minor details accurate wouldn’t have lessened the story in any way. Also, the girls were identical twins but the movie portrays them as fraternal twins. They could have done what David Fincher did with Armie Hammer in “The Social Network” and had one actor (either Wright or Lawrence) play both twins to make the film more accurate. The film also goes on a tad too long and could have trimmed some minor fat to make the pacing tighter. Those complaints are valid but won’t ruin your viewing experience as this is a fascinating story that I had never even heard of before watching the film. This isn’t an uplifting, fun film but it is an important story worth telling and hopefully brings awareness to the cruelty of many older psychiatric hospitals and how delicate and nuanced mental health battles are. The phenomenal acting and some of the best direction of 2022 thus far makes “The Silent Twins” loudly grab your attention.

#SilenceIsEmbolden / #TheWrightStuff / #FightForYourWrightToWrite / #TwinOfOmission / #DontMuteThisFilm / #TheSisterhoodOfTheTravelingTransplants

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