Greetings again from the darkness. Twins often have their own language or way of communicating. However, sisters June and Jennifer Gibbons of Wales took this to a new level, creating a mysterious dark connection that no one else every understood. Andrea Siegel has adapted the screenplay from Marjorie Wallace’s book, and Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska (THE LURE 2015) delivers the style and creep factor, while missing out on answering the questions raised with the story.
The young sisters are seen giving a fake radio broadcast, and we get a glimpse of their awkward behavior during childhood … behavior that left their parents and siblings feeling helpless. Letitia Wright (BLACK PANTHER, 2018) and Tamara Lawrance (KINDRED, 2020) take over as teenage June and Jennifer, respectively. While the young ones are well cast, it’s the work of Ms. Wright and Ms. Lawrance that keep this one watchable despite the meandering. The awkward behavior of adolescents evolves into bizarre behavior of teens, and ultimately criminal behavior and some type of mental illness.
Pure elation of a new typewriter is all too quickly erased by irritation and anger that leads to fighting, or worse. Director Smoczynska does well to use stop motion animation periodically in helping to explain what’s happening with the two girls. Child psychologists have no luck breaking through and the sisters are ultimately separated and locked away at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital by age 19. By this time, it’s difficult not to view them as psychopaths.
It’s interesting to watch as these two survive on the fringes of society in near mental isolation, and use writing as a creative outlet to unleash their inner thoughts. We never really know if we should have empathy for the girls, and that becomes even more difficult given their later behavior. Journalist Marjorie Wallace (played here by Jodhi May) documented her interactions with the sisters, but we can’t help but wonder if this story is better told in documentary form – despite the strong work from Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance.
Opens in theaters on September 16, 2022