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The Crack Magazine

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The Silent Twins

Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska

Stars: Letitia Wright, Tamara Lawrance, Michael Smiley, Jodhi May

This English language debut of Polish director Agnieszka ‘The Lure’ Smoczynska – a disturbingly immersive account of real life siblings June and Jennifer Gibbons – brings to mind Peter Jackson’s ‘Heavenly Creatures’. Born into the only black family in a small Welsh town, the twins choose only to communicate with each other in their bedroom, where they lose themselves in invented stories and art. The director brings their dark flights of fancy to life in creepy, rough-hewn animated sequences. When a good-looking American boy moves into the town, the teenage sisters (played in grown incarnation by Wright and Lawrance) begin to experiment with drugs and sex. This leads to petty crime, then, after setting fire to a tractor, the twins are sent to high-security psychiatric institution Broadmoor Hospital. Their condition gets worse and more erratic, even as their writing becomes more prolific. The bright, richly-coloured renderings of their kitschy romantic fantasy world, replete with flouncy 80s attire, contrasts starkly with their real world surroundings, with production designer Anna Mocny making good use of the presumably Cold War-era Polish locations to replicate the sisters’ drably municipal surroundings. Although the Gibbons remain unknowable and not particularly relatable, Wright (who also produced) and Lawrance are excellent as the eerily self-possessed siblings. The balancing of the real and imagined world however feels uneven and narratively unsatisfactory.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm