Northfork
3 out of 5 stars
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The Polish brothers take an ethereal and bizarre look at Middle America in this fairy tale-like movie that's enchanting to watch, even though it's virtually impossible to understand. It's 1955, and the town of Northfork, Montana, is about to be inundated to make way for a new lake. Six dam company employees (including father and son Woods and Polish) head into the sparse town to find the stragglers who won't leave. Among these people are the town priest (Nolte) and a little boy (Farnes) he's caring for who thinks he's a stranded angel, and that eccentric heavenly creatures (Hannah, Edwards, Sachs and Foster) are looking for him. And if this is all in his mind, then why does the dam company give people a set of authentic angel wings to get them to leave their home?

There's a lot of cinematic trickery going on in the storyline, with key elements and characters using puns for names and doing very odd things. It's also strangely reminiscent of lots of movies, although you can't put your finger on just one (David Lynch meets the Coen Brothers, perhaps). Performances are solid; even the more comical or absurd characters have moments of honest emotion. And there's a lot going on here regarding life and death, moving on, progress and just the whole Middle America thing in the 1950s. The film also has a dreamlike quality that continually undermines our expectations. On the other hand, this refuses to let us ever get a grip on the film in any meaningful way. The Polish brothers may be too clever for their own good; this film feels self-indulgent, like an inside joke we could never get without reading a book about the film. Still, it's striking to look at, gorgeously filmed and wonderfully human, in a sort of otherworldly way. Beautiful nonsense.

cert PG adult themes and situations 22.Oct.03 lff

dir Michael Polish
scr Mark Polish, Michael Polish
with James Woods, Mark Polish, Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, Anthony Edwards, Robin Sachs, Ben Foster, Duel Farnes, Peter Coyote, Claire Forlani, Clark Gregg, Kyle MacLachlan
release US 11.Jul.03; UK 12.Mar.04
03/US 1h43

Get outta town: Farnes and Polish.

woods nolte hannah
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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