Brothers under the skin
"Twin Falls Idaho" is not just a gawker's freak show it's a sad, fascinating, and profoundly moving portrait of two joined twins who have learned, not by choice, to live together.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
At a cursory glance, Twin Falls Idaho looks like it might have originated from the fractured and highly-volatile imagination of David Lynch, director of such surreal indulgences as "Wild
at Heart," "Lost Highway," and the television series that started it all, "Twin Peaks." But this odd little film adds an element completely alien to Lynch's cinematic arsenal of weirdness
and weirdos: it adds empathy.
It's an element that pushes "Twin Falls Idaho" beyond the experience of just another freak show.
|TWIN FALLS IDAHO|
|Directed by: Michael Polish.|
Written by: Michael and Mark Polish.
Cast: Michael Polish, Mark Polish, Michele Hicks.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
The feature and starring debut of striking-looking identical twins Mark and Michael Polish, "Twin Falls Idaho" does not exploit its subject matter. Far from it: it bathes its conjoined siblings in a loving and sympathetic light, and the result is a sad, fascinating, and profoundly moving portrait of two individuals who have learned, not by choice, to live together.
There's not much of a story; it's your typical tale of "girl falls for (Siamese) boy." Instead, the film draws its power from the superlative performances of its male leads, whose
contributions in front of the camera are equaled only by their skills as writers and, in Michael's case, director behind it. With genuine sensitivity, the film ably demonstrates the easily
imagined logistical difficulties of, say, sharing three legs, a breast bone, and other vital organs. There's only one "effects" shot in the entire 105-minute film; the physicality of Blake and
Francis' relationship is expressed through the brothers' unique fraternal bond of love and communication, rather than of skin and bone.
Throughout the film the very separate Polish brothers stand extremely close together, whispering softly in a beautiful didactic contrivance. While one sleeps, the other remains awake.
When one is sick, the other remains strong, steadfast. When one is propositioned by a hooker (played by Michele Hicks, a model-turned-actress whose talents, no doubt, were
previously better employed), the other reaps the benefits.
Gorgeously photographed by M. David Mullen (and, since most of the drama takes place in a grungy hotel, amazingly so), the deliberately and, I daresay, ambiguously-titled Twin
Falls Idaho recalls Peter Greenaway's masterly The Falls. Among its 99 violent, unknown biographies, Greenaway's feature debut included identical twins played by the brothers
Quay. Shortly after seeing Twin Falls Idaho I learned of conjoined twins from Poland (Polish, don't you see) who were here in Philadelphia undergoing the first of many surgeries in an
attempt to separate them. Of course my mind did a double take.
"Twin Falls Idaho" is indeed an oddity but, unlike a circus sideshow, it's one that you should have no moral compunction in paying to see.
|OCTOBER 1, 1999|
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