If ever an indie film had all the false hallmarks of being an exploitative mess, Twin Falls, Idaho is it. The film opens in a hotel of Lynchian dim seediness where two shy, faltering conjoined twins receive a visit from a zany young prostitute named Penny. The film soon introduces a substory with an ambiguous doctor (played with ironic distance by Patrick Bachau, veteran of many vampy and vampirific Eurotrash roles), and its turning point is a misunderstanding at a Halloween party.
This sounds like a voyeuristic peepshow or a maudlin mockery… but instead Twin Falls, Idaho manages to be a tender character study, a solemn, sweet tale about love and interdependence and loneliness. It’s a mournful little story with some gently touching performances. Mark and Michael Polish, writer and writer-director brothers, also star as Blake and Francis Falls, and they convey their closeness with a (quite literally) quiet intimacy: the two murmur confidingly to each other as if they have, indeed, spent a lifetime only inches apart. Michele Hicks is brash and gentle by turns, a convincing portrait of a hard-bitten young hooker struggling between self-interest and compassion. And Lesley Ann Warren turns in another of her remarkable small supporting roles here, wrestling with a really unlikeable part and giving it her all.
The whole film is a very successful oddity. It’s tentative and slow, almost peaceful in its startling way — a meditative and lovely study that pushes the audience to consider an experience completely outside the scope of most daily lives and simultaneously makes us realize how very alike we are in our desires and our limitations.