In Twin Falls Idaho, their somber, fablelike first feature, identical twins Michael and Mark Polish try to milk resonance from novelty value-the execution is surefooted, but it’s a futile endeavor, and a laborious one to watch. The brothers, who share a writing credit, play conjoined twins Blake and Francis Falls. The title is indeed a feeble pun: when we first meet the twin Falls, they’re living in a nameless city on “Idaho Avenue”-in a spooky Barton Fink hotel, complete with flickering fluorescent lights and Lynchian elevator guy. Salvation of sorts arrives
in the form of Penny (Michele Hicks), a trashily made-up, good-hearted-oh yes-hooker.
The film’s slapped-on
eeriness peels away to reveal little more than simplistic dramatic ploys. Francis (Michael) is seriously ill, and even though the twins share vital organs and a bloodstream, Blake (Mark) remains fit-“Who’d
take care of Francis otherwise?” Add to this metaphysical medical drama a romantic complication: Penny and Blake fall in love. The two subplots dovetail into a tidy, fussy
delineation of a love triangle-an offbeat one, we’re constantly reminded. The Polish brothers also factor in a leisurely examination of fraternal bonds and an illustration of separation anxiety at its most profound. By the end, though, the film is content to play out simply as a conventional tearjerker-with a tasteful freak-show aspect.
Twin Falls-which was featured in the last New Directors alongside a vastly more haunting and suggestive Siamese-twin tale, Alexei Balabanov’s
exquisite, still distributor-less Of Freaks and Men-leaves far too little to the imagination. The screenplay, for all its minimalist airs and pregnant pauses, is dependent on the odd declamatory outburst and crashing symbolism-in particular, a
recurring $2 bill (as in, you don’t get two singles if you tear it in half). The gauntly handsome leads are decent enough actors, but they’re hardly immune to the sedate tone and pace-a measure of the self-importance of a film that’s neither as weighty nor as weird as it would like to think.