By Ron Wells | August 9, 1999

Every once in a long while, some novice filmmaker seemingly comes out of nowhere and delivers a COMPLETE film, the first time out of the gate. Thankfully, this is one of those times. Better yet, with “A Zed and Two Naughts” and “Dead Ringers”, I finally have a picture to complete my “nihilistic twins and the woman who comes between them” box set. This movie is made by the Polish brothers, however, an actual pair of twins.
Penny (Michele Hicks), a prostitute, answers a call from a seedy residential hotel on Idaho street in an unnamed city. It looks much like the place Barton Fink and Dorothy Valens stayed. When she arrives at her destination, she comments on all of the freaks and weirdos she’s past, only to meet the Falls twins, Blake (co-writer Mark Polish) and Francis (director and co-writer Michæl Polish). Conjoined since birth, the pair have only two arms and three full legs, and share many vital organs. The twins have come to this town to find the mother who abandoned them. Francis, though, is very sick, probably dying, but Blake is fine. Penny was meant as a birthday present from Francis to Blake, but along the way, something else develops. Truly Lynchian weirdness ensues.
This might just be the most messed-up date movie of the year. We definitely get a different take on separation anxiety and co-dependency. The most extreme example of many relationship problems is depicted with subtlety and without judgement. The more fascinating issue is of what defines you. If your faults, shortcomings, or deformities are a large part of what defines your personality or character, what will you be if they are corrected? That uncertainty alone can and has driven people to their death not to find out. The Falls brothers only know loneliness for a minute when one wakes up and a minute when he falls asleep. The world of one without the other is unimaginable.
Now, what did I mean by a “complete” film? It’s rare, even with a veteran director for a Hollywood production, for a film to firing on all cylinders. With the script, casting, acting, directing, photography, editing, pacing and tone, someone always finds a way to screw up. Not the Polish brothers. The two, strapped together by costume and prosthetic appliance are in around 80% of all scenes, their heads only inches apart. They have to both act and function together for the length of the picture. There’s no CGI trickery. Each has one arm out of the pair to eat, dress, whatever. The only previous acting credit for either one is as a set of twins for “Hellraiser IV”.
Hey, this isn’t for everyone. Some may dismiss the film as a freakshow, but the Polish brothers have put their hearts in it. With a little bit David Lynch, a little bit David Cronenberg, and more than a little bit of hope, they’ve created a pair of indelible characters they are uniquely suited to play. I just have no idea what they might be planning for their next film.

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