The true story of June and Jennifer Gibbons is a very fascinating one of racial prejudice, and perhaps, abuse. These twin sisters of Barbados origins had much trouble adjusting to a new life in England, where their father took them, where they faced racism and bullying. As a defense mechanism to their treatment, the sisters only communicated with each other and refused to talk with anyone else. This choice proved rather problematic in their lives, and made their experiences in their upbring very troublesome. Nevertheless, their lives fueled their creative minds which actually lead to them getting published in their adult lives. A film by director Agnieszka Smoczyńska tells their story and offers a glimpse into the lives of June and Jennifer; however, this movie only scratches the surface of what happened and never fully reveals what actually occurred to cause the Gibbons’ twins reaction.
The movie follows the lives of June and Jennifer Gibbons (Letitia Wright, Tamara Lawrence), from their troubled childhood in England through their adulthood where they tried to live “normal” lives. Faced with much prejudice and abuse from their classmates, June and Jennifer could never participate and exel in school, despite the fact that they were very intelligent and creative. Only communicating between themselves, the twins would often escape through their imagination and create stories through either their puppets and stories. While this gift would allow them some success in creative writing, the sisters were often labeled as mentally ill, and would eventually get institutionalized when their behavior would get out of control.
Based on the book by Marjorie Lawrence, writer Andrea Siegel and director Agnieszka Smoczyńska do a fine job of exposing the creative minds of June and Jennifer Gibbons, but never quite get to the heart of what caused their withdrawal from society. The story is rather fascinating and compelling, but the filmmakers never give a definitive reason as to why these gifted ladies struggled so much with socialization. I was very impressed with how Agnieszka Smoczyńska and her crew recreated the stories that helped the Gibbons sisters escape the troubles of their lives. However, the complete development of their characters never come to fruition. I suppose this is something that is difficult to express, given the mysterious nature of the characters.
I will admit that both Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrence perform exceptionally in their roles. Their commitment to the limited communication expressed by their characters works so well. Still, I wanted more answers as to why the Gibbons sisters developed as they did. Either way, I moderately recommend The Silent Twins as a curious film, but not one that is guaranteed to completely satisfy.