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TWIN FALLS IDAHO

SYNOPSIS:
Penny (Michelle Hicks), a lonely prostitute lost in her get-rich-quick program, is called to the run-down apartment of Francis Falls (Michael Polish). Francis emerges shyly from the bathroom, and introduces Penny to his Siamese twin brother Blake (Mark Polish). Francis and Blake are handsome, polite, and well-dressed, and she befriends them. As Penny slowly helps the twins to feel normal, the twins allow Penny (and us) to see into their unique shared existence, a world where everything is times two. As she tries to solve their problems (they're in town to see their mother), Penny inadvertently exposes them to the world from which they feel so alienated.

"Twin Falls Idaho is a deceptive title. It hints at being set in the sparse rurality of Idaho, but it’s actually the name of the street the Falls brothers live on in a nameless city. Other heavy-handed symbols come fast in the first few minutes here. Penny stares bewilderingly at a rare two-dollar bill she’s handed, and A Tale of Two Cities blares from a TV in the hotel lobby. One wonders why David Lynch didn’t jump at a film like this years ago, for it’s the stuff he’s made his career on. This is, in fact, the work of two enterprising twin brothers (identical but not Siamese), Mark and Michael Polish, who wrote, directed, and star in the film as the Falls brothers. Fusion between twins is a subject obviously close to the Polish’s hearts. Their film taps into that irrational morbid fascination with the macabre and bizarre. They capture the Falls’ unfortunate condition and evoke our unspoken ideas about individual beings, siblinghood, and physical and mental autonomy. Yet the Polish brothers also make somewhat of a spectacle of the Siamese twins phenomenon. We watch them walk, whisper to each other, get dressed, and even play guitar. Whether the twins have one penis or two is questioned repetitively in jest. It’s a fine line between poignancy and freak show voyeurism, but when Penny takes the bothers to a Halloween party and nobody figures out the twins are not in costume, you realise this is the one day where Siamese twins can blend in. It breaks the heart. Then again, the infamous Farrelly brothers (Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) have a Siamese twins comedy in the works. One wonders where ridicule ends and filmmaking begins. Brian De Palma got away with it via Hitchcockian tropes in Sisters and David Cronenberg used it as a thematic backdrop in Dead Ringers because he's a genius. The Polish brother’s debut film is somewhat egocentric (they’ve researched Siamese twins since childhood), but it is also strangely affecting. Of course any drama about Siamese twins inevitably boils down to separation and the sacrifice one must make for the other. The coda is a home-movie dream sequence featuring both brothers separate and whole as children, and it’s beautiful. Twin Falls registers on our conscience despite its narcissism and becomes a moving statement of co-joined loneliness, of alienation, of a life so few can comprehend but many must relate to."
Shannon J Harvey

"In general I’m not keen on films that use physical abnormality – dwarves, cripples, obese people – for instant weirdness. Tom DeCillo’s film Living In Oblivion, set around an independent film shoot, made the definitive comment on this when a dwarf who’s been hired to appear in a sub-David-Lynch dream sequence suddenly goes ballistic: ‘Have you ever had a dream about a dwarf? Has anyone?’ Twin Falls Idaho also owes a lot to Lynch, and though it doesn’t feature real freaks it does assume that conjoined twins, as such, are infinitely fascinating and surreal. So while the twins are solemnly portrayed as sensitive individuals who need understanding, almost every scene is a new twist on their novelty value: one twin talks while the other sleeps, they play duets, they go to a fancy-dress party and pass as ‘normal’ people in costume, and so on. There’s nothing holding the film together except two men pretending to be attached at the hip, and though this illusion is impressively sustained, the slow arty style, searching for resonance that isn’t there, seems dull and pretentious pretty quickly. But there is something memorable about the Polish brothers themselves, who portray the Falls as if they were Martians or time-travellers, with their identical sepia suits, short hair, and sly, archaic politeness. By design, the main interest of the film is voyeuristic. Though these guys aren’t really conjoined, they're uncontestably real identical twins, and it’s impossible not to speculate about their real-life relationship and the automatic strangeness of being a twin (a part-time freak, you could say). Of course, Twin Falls Idaho has nothing to say about this directly. What we see is a practiced routine that the pair are putting forward almost cynically – exploiting themselves as a spectacle. There’s something genuinely creepy about that; they must have been practicing all their lives."
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

TWIN FALLS IDAHO (M)
(US)

CAST: Mark Polish, Michael Polish, Michele Hicks, Jon Gries, Patrick Bauchau, Garrett Morris, Lesley Ann Warren, William Katt, Teresa Hill, Ant, Holly Woodlawn

DIRECTOR: Michael Polish

PRODUCERS: Marshall Persinger, Rena Ronson, Steven J. Wolfe

SCRIPT: Mark Polish Michael Polish

CINEMATOGRAPHER: M.David Mullen

EDITOR: Leo Trombetta

MUSIC: Stuart Matthewman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Warren Alan Young

RUNNING TIME: 110 min

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 30 2000 (Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth; June 1, 2000: Sydney, Brisbane)

VIDEO RELEASE: july 12, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Home Entertainment







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