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  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

The Silent Twins (A Movie Review)


Starring Letitia Wright, Tamara Lawrance, Nadine Marshall, Treva Etienne, Leah Mondesir-Simmonds, Eva-Arianna Baxter, Michael Smiley, Jodhi May, Jack Bandeira, Kinga Preis, Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Tony Richardson, Declan Joyce, Ewa Rodart, Ian McQuillan-Grace, Martin Hugh Henley, Rita Raider, Jordan J Gallagher, Julian R. Booth and Jada La'Rue.

Screenplay by Andrea Seigel.

Directed by Agnieszka Smocynska.

Distributed by Focus Features. 113 minutes. Not Rated.

The Silent Twins makes for something of a conundrum for a viewer. It takes a look at a true story of two identical twins in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s (although in the film they are not played as identical twins, but by actresses who kind of look alike, but not really…) who were apparently quite brilliant, imaginative writers and spent much of their lives in and out of specialty schools and mental health facilities.

They were referred to as “The Silent Twins” because for the most part they refused to speak – although they certainly could speak – except for amongst themselves. They were shy, granted, but they refused to speak with their nurturing parents. They were bullied in school because of it. They were probably also bullied because they were the only black students in the school, although the film doesn’t really probe that aspect of the story very much.

Instead, they lived in a strange fantastical world of their own, one where they were chatty radio stars and lived among all sorts of odd puppets and dioramas. (These fantasy sequences look like they were inspired by the works of quirky French filmmakers like Michel Gondry or Leos Carax.)

In fact, an early scene over the opening credits where the twins, as little girls, play and chat excitedly while putting on their radio show was absolutely charming. The film could use more of this dynamic.

Instead, they were consciously, willfully antisocial – at home, in school, and most anywhere else. They had put together an odd, dysfunctional bonding of the two of them against the world, and the world was always ready to knock them down.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that these two women were indeed extremely disturbed, to the point that spending time in their company, even from the distance of the screen, was really rather unpleasant. And to be quite honest, they were often the cause of their own problems.

It’s a sad, tragic story, but it’s often hard to feel much sympathy for them.

The sisters may have loved each other, but honestly, they often don’t seem to have particularly liked each other. They often fought, were casually mean to each other, and quickly graduated over the years to fighting over boys, committing petty crimes and even arson.

They spurred each other on to bad behavior – specifically Jenny (Tamara Lawrence), the more powerful alpha of the pair, tended to push her shy and thoughtful twin June (Letitia Wright) into places where she should not be. In fact, through much of the film the audience is kind of hoping that June will break away from her twin and figure out her own life.

And for the life of me, I’m not sure how their parents – smart, caring hard-working Barbadian immigrants – put up with all the problems their girls caused.

However, yes, they did eventually become rather famous writers. (Many of the fantasy sequences are based on their writings, and most of the songs in the film are the sisters’ poetry set to music.) They obviously did have intriguing imaginations and talent. Which is probably the only reason why this story is being told.

It does not change the fact that they were both mentally ill and spending nearly two hours in their company is rather emotionally draining.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: September 16, 2022.


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