Twin Falls Idaho (1999)

“In time, every sad ending will become happy.” A hooker takes a cab to a seedy hotel. The cabdriver, who has a hook for a hand, gives her a $2 bill for change. A strange and decrepit elevator operator takes the whore to the top floor. The elevator operator tries to make conversation along the way: “Fifty two years and I have yet to guess the desired floor.” They reach the top floor. The prostitute asks the elevator operator about the pungent odor evident as the elevator doors slide open. “It’s piss,” he responds nonchalantly. She cautiously makes her way to a door at the end of the hall. It turns out that the hotel room is occupied by a set of sickly Siamese twins sporting a drab, chocolate-brown suit and subsisting mostly on junk food. It’s their birthday and the two have decided to share a cake and a prostitute. These guys look like a couple of sewn-together morticians with personalities to match. Although we have no knowledge of their past, it’s quite obvious that the twins, “Francis and Blake Falls” (Michael and Mark Polish, who are actual twins), have checked into the Imperial Hotel on Idaho with no expectations of checking out. The free-spirited hooker, “Penny” (Michele Hicks), makes a hasty exit when she sees the two “freaks,” but curiosity gets the best of her and she gradually gets involved in their lives. The twins spend most of their time sleeping, whispering to each other, puking in the toilet and staring at the ceiling. The only day of the year they can safely leave their prison-like hotel room is on Halloween when they blend in with the crowd. Penny takes them to a party and they actually slow dance with her. She then takes them back to her place where they strum her guitar (no this is not a sexual reference; they actually play a Johnny Cash song on the guitar!). The twins become alienated from Penny after being confronted by her friend Jay (Jon Gries), an entertainment lawyer who wishes to exploit them as sideshow freaks by booking them on the something like The Jerry Springer Show (“A disease is not a disease unless it’s marketable!”). I don’t want to reveal too much more about the plot, and besides, action and conflict don’t exactly drive this film. Not much happens. It’s simply a character study that depicts the lives of the twins as they make their way through the world. Audacious and totally original, the film doesn’t hammer the audience over the head with some overwrought message nor does it attempt to turn the whole charade into overblown melodrama. Lesley Anne Warren portrays the twins’ mother, “Francine,” who abandoned them at birth. And look for William Katt (Big Wednesday) as a surgeon. Garrett Morris, formerly of Saturday Night Live, appears as a hotel resident named “Jesus” who drives the ill twins to the hospital. Jesus, who performs weddings out of his hotel room, tries to cheer the twins up with such lines as “Divorce isn’t even an option in your marriage.”

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