A review of “Northfork” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *

Rating: PG-13 for disturbing imagery and mild sexuality

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes (but feels like hours)



Artsy, über-surreal and insufferably pretentious are just a few choice adjectives describing Mark and Michael Polish’s (“Twin Falls Idaho”) big- budget neo-Western.  What little enthusiasm I drummed up for this hyper-precocious indie will be tucked away for December’s Worst of the Year list.

Hugely reliant on technique and saturated in symbolism, “Northfork” tells the story of an imaginative orphan boy (Duel Farnes as Irwin) who has been returned to Northfork’s local priest (a crusty Nick Nolte as Father Harlan) because of an unspecified illness. 

Harlan desperately seeks a home for the dispossessed boy while the 1955 Montana Plains town of Northfork is virtually dismantled around him, courtesy of a brand-spanking-new dam.  Caught in a maelstrom of feverish dreams, Irwin conjures up a quartet of eccentric angels:  Anthony Edwards as a blind, double-amputee named Happy and Daryl Hannah as the androgynous and childless Flower Hercules are just two of the unfortunates who signed on for this stultifying puzzler.

While relying heavily on pristine imagery (macro close-ups of teacups, windshields and clouds) to get their point across, the Polish brothers manage to oh-so-vaguely sketch out a tale of the state-controlled Evacuation Committee and their fruitless efforts to relocate Northfork’s tenacious townsfolk. The Committee’s parting gift? A pair of clipped, baby angel wings in a velvet-lined guitar case. (barf) 

Note the repetitive and abstract angel representation.  Note the excessive David Lynch-ian nature of the narrative.  The Polish twins exhibited some minor talent in their early efforts, but this feeble American fairy tale should send these bad boys packing, straight back to square one.