A scene from 'Twin Falls Idaho'
Courtesy Photo
*** stars 105 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, August 27, 1999 (in SF)
Co-written & directed by Michael Polish

Starring Mark Polish, Michael Polish, Michele Hicks, Lesley Ann Warren, Patrick Bauchau, Jon Gries, Garrett Morris & William Katt

Interview with the Polish brothers

This movie received an honorable mention in the Best of 1999 list.


This is the kind of rental that feels like discovering gold since almost no one saw it in the theater. Powerful, personal, and uniquely cinematic. I'll bet you'll watch it twice.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 1/18/99

Conjoined brothers cope with love, death in deeply symbolic 'Twin Falls'

By Rob Blackwelder

Literal and symbolic duplicity are only the simplest of character traits in the people that populate "Twin Falls, Idaho."

So much goes understood yet unspoken in every relationship of this densely cerebral story that as Michael and Mark Polish -- twin brothers and the movie's writers, directors and stars -- were developing the script, they must have boiled it down to its most engrossing base elements between each revision before adding back in only elements necessary to advance the plot, which is about the unique relationship between reclusive conjoined twins.

Opening in an atmosphere that recalls the dark, freak show flavor of David Cronenberg or David Lynch, "Twin Falls" finds its title characters, Blake and Francis Falls, quietly holed up from a gawking world in a seedy New York hotel room (on Idaho Street -- the title has nothing to do with the Northwestern city it's named after). The mood is bizarre as they wait for a hooker, who subsequently runs away when she sees she'd be pulling a rather macabre double duty.

But finding herself in a fix, the girl returns to use their phone and begins to form a bond with the strangely synchronous and near-silent brothers, and the film slowly edges away from the eccentric, subtly becoming a warm, affecting story of companionship and individuality as one of the brothers falls ill.

Penny (Michele Hicks) takes a inquisitive interest in the twins, brazenly asking the kind of questions another curious person might politely avoid, and an uneasy friendship is soon struck. Inexplicably attracted to Blake ("Maybe I'll call you when I'm single," he quips) and concerned about sickly Francis, she become the brothers' care-taker and their first real friend.

First-time filmmakers, the Polish brothers explore extraordinary depths of conscious and subconscious feelings with a straightforward style that belies the complexity of their surprisingly moving picture. Saturated with powerful symbolism (duality is everywhere and Christian mythology plays a part) which helps leave a lasting impression, "Twin Falls" drives home precise emotions with potent scenes, like the nightclub Halloween party that afford Blake and Francis a rare opportunity to appear in public without being gaped at (even though they still feel uncomfortable for their learned lack of social skills from years of mutual solitude).

The movie is also made memorable by its indelible performances. The Polish brothers portray the Falls' intrinsic synergy with eerie precision, conveying some subtle but potent pathos as only Francis' health begins to fail even though he and Blake share the same skin.

Starting as a hardened, raccoon-eyed streetwalker who thaws slowly, Hicks, a former model with impressively natural acting chops and a gaunt Uma Thurman look, gives fantastic depth to what is essentially an esoteric contortion on the hooker with the heart of gold.

More than just an impressive first effort, the surprising warmth, strong performances, layered intensity and manifold meaning of "Twin Falls, Idaho" give an audience something to chew on well after the movie is over. And that is one of the definitions of a great filmmaking.


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