By Amanda Gilmore
Director Agnieszka Smoczynska’s latest is based upon the Novel written by Marjorie Wallace about real-life Welsh twins June (Letitia Wright) and Jennifer Gibbons (Tamara Lawrence), who were part of the only Black family in their small town. They would only communicate with one other. Thus, causing the community to believe something was wrong with them. When they grew-up, they were caught vandalizing and sent to Broadmoor, an infamous Psychiatric Hospital, where they face the choice to separate and survive or die together.
Smoczynska begins with the twins in childhood. It’s clear from the get go that the two have their own language. She captures their free spirited childhood, while alone together, through them hosting their own radio show together. These moments are captured with vivid lighting that gives everything a dreamlike appearance. However, Smoczynska and Cinematographer Jakub Kijowski retract these light purples, pinks, blues and yellows fade once someone interrupts their privacy. This becomes increasingly more clear when June and Jennifer are torn apart from each other.
When we are introduced to them as teens, we are brought into the world of adolescent coming-of-age. Both desire to become Authors. When Jennifer receives rejection letters, the two decide they need to live a little outside their shelter. Therefore, leading them into young romance. They fall for the same boy and subsequently go on a vandalism spree. They are in the time of their lives when they are experimenting. Even if the decisions they make lead them to dangerous situations, we empathize with them.
In the Final Act, the twins end up at Broadmoor. It’s here that we see the extent of their bond. When they are separated from the other they become catatonic. It’s as if they can’t survive without the other. The Silent Twins is one of the most beautiful depictions of sibling connection on-screen. This is aided by the formidable performances from Wright and Gibbons. They have an effortless chemistry and really delve into these women. They let us get close enough to understanding these twins.
The Silent Twins is a beautiful story about the bond between June and Jennifer Gibbons. It examines themes of otherness and belonging while being a critique on psychiatric facilities such as the infamous Broadmoor. Additionally, it’s a love letter to the twins. Smoczynska and Screenwriter Andrea Seigel go further than simply adapting the Novel. They use the journals from June and Jennifer to give us a deeper understanding of them. Smoczynska’s creative directing style brings these journal entries cinematically to the screen through dazzling recreations.
The Silent Twins screens at Cannes ’22:
Tue, May 24 at 7:45 PM at SALLE DEBUSSY
Wed, May 25 at 11:30 AM at SALLE AGNÈS VARDA
Wed, May 25 at 3 PM at CINEUM AURORE
Thu, May 26 at 4:15 PM at CINEUM SCREEN X
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