Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review: Twin Falls Idaho 2 1/2 Stars

Good idea:
A love story featuring conjoined twins and a hooker.

Bad execution:
Twin Falls Idaho

Blake and Francis Falls (Mark and Michael Polish), conjoined twins, travel to New York to meet the mother (Lesley Ann Warren) who abandoned them as infants. Before confronting her, however, the boys celebrate their birthdays by hiring Penny (Michele Hicks), a high fashion model and prostitute on the skids.

When Penny first witnesses the brothers, she flees. Later, she returns to retrieve her purse and discovers that Francis is ill. Nursing him back to health, Penny falls in love with Blake. Francis is not only jealous, but fearful since all of Penny’s friends want to cash in on the freak show. But Francis is also dying, and Blake believes that since they came into the world together, they should go out together.

This little indie film from The Polish Brothers, the gaunt poster boys of alternative sexy, was, understandably, a critic’s darling and festival favorite. Set in the seedy underbelly of New York’s modeling industry, Twin Falls Idaho is the ugly side of hip: conjoined twins aren’t nearly as freakish as the denizens of the fashion world: the pitiful models, agents and photographers. But even under the surface of the sniping, Twin Falls Idaho explores themes of symbiosis, interdependency and all the flavors of love in a tightly-woven construct of parallels and perpendiculars.

Unfortunately, there are no dynamics at play within the story’s structure. The tone becomes overwhelmingly monotonous, dour, almost suffocating. The film maintains the same key throughout; the morose timbre is never interrupted by moments of levity. Nor does the rhythm ever alter; the time signature never shifts; the tempo never increases. Even the acting is one-note. It makes senses that the Siamese brothers would have the same delivery, but it’s as if the entire cast was conjoined and shared the same tongue.

Twin Falls Idaho is engaging -- after all, it is a love story featuring conjoined twins and a hooker -- but it just doesn’t live up to expectations of what kind of movie that story could be. The disease of the very hipster universe The Polish Brothers attack in the film seems to have infected their approach to the telling the story. Twin Falls Idaho is arty and distant and far too self-conscious.

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