Magazine article The Spectator

Two of a Kind

Magazine article The Spectator

Two of a Kind

Article excerpt

Cinema

Twin Falls Idaho (15, selected cinemas)

The last film I saw about Siamese twins was, if memory serves, Chained for Life, with Daisy and Violet Hilton. Before that, it was some excerpts from Tod Browning's Freaks (1932), also featuring the Hilton sisters. The girls were English, joined at the hip, and they had some success in American vaudeville. Marcus Loew signed them and, in 1925, booked them in Newark where they took $36,000 and broke box-- office records. Three years ago, there was a terrible Broadway musical about them, Side Show, whose opening number began 'Come look at the freaks/Come gaze at the geeks' - and then found itself lumbered with that '-eek' rhyme scheme: 'Come explore how they fascinate you/Exasperate you/For weeks.' Also they have 'the best physiques' which 'flush your cheeks'. For some reason, the reviews were rather good, but sooner or later any show with a lot of three-legged tap-dancing is going to run out of audience.

Twin Falls Idaho digs inside the subject far more effectively. It's not exploitative, in the manner of Chained for Life, but nor is it ham-fisted in its attempts to humanise, as Side Show is. Its creators are two identical twins - Mark and Michael Polish, who co-- wrote and co-star in the film. Michael also directs. Mark plays the stronger half of the pair, Blake Falls. Michael plays his conjoined brother, Francis Falls. The Falls twins are living at the Hotel Idaho. The title is a pun, whose only danger is it suggests one of those Taranteenybopper tales of nowhere burgs in flyover country.

Indeed, we begin in familiar territory-- the kind of fleapit residential hotel with desolate corridors and creepy elevator operator that now seems to exist principally in movies, mainly to kick-start the plot. A hooker is dropped off, takes the elevator, knocks on the door, sees the gaunt, melancholy face of Blake Falls and spots Francis, to whom Blake is joined at the hip and with whom he shares a leg, only when she's in the room. Penny (the striking kohl-ringed model Michele Hicks) has been ordered up by Francis as a birthday present for his brother - and therefore also, to some degree or other, for himself. It is regrettable but true that just about the only aspect of Siamese twins that anyone's interested in is how exactly they have sex. Sharing a middle leg, do they also share one twig and berries? …

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