Review: ‘Skeletons’

Cult-movie wannabe about a couple of oddballs who offer healing by digging into people's pasts.

A Charlie Kaufman/cult-movie wannabe about a couple of oddballs who offer healing by digging into people’s pasts, “Skeletons” fails to rattle any cupboards. Playing with sub-Tarantino dialogue and a premise that doesn’t withstand scrutiny, this oddly under-populated comedy (expanded from a short film) buries initial moments of amusement under a lackluster script that feels like that of a rushed Brit TV special. Unlikely to withstand critical wrath, “Skeletons” may still find some fans on college campuses.

Mismatched duo Davis (Ed Gaughan) and Bennett (Andrew Buckley) help people come to terms with their buried secrets by mystically delving into their lives. (The concept is just as unclear as it sounds, though it may have worked better in the short-film version.) They’re hired by Jane (Danish actress Paprika Steen) — whose daughter Rebecca (Tuppence Middleton) turned mute three years earlier — to find her husband, who’s been missing for eight years. While the plot banks on an element of surprise, most everything that follows is predictable, with unconvincing psychologizing. Lensing is technically proficient, if unimaginative.

Skeletons

U.K.

Production

An EM Media, Scottish Screen presentation of a Forward Films, Edge City Films production. (International sales: Forward, London.) Produced by Tracy Brimm, Paul Welsh, Kate Myers. Executive producers, Suzanne Alizart, Robbie Allen, Anna Siefert-Speck. Directed, written by Nick Whitfield.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Zac Nicholson; editor, Rachel Tunnard; music, Simon Whitfield; production designer, James Lapsley; costume designer, Alison McLaughlin. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Bright Future), Feb. 2, 2010. (Also in Gothenburg Film Festival -- Debuts; SXSW Film Festival -- Emerging Visions.) English, Bulgarian dialogue. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Ed Gaughan, Andrew Buckley, Paprika Steen, Tuppence Middleton, Jason Isaacs, Josef Whitfield.

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