Written and Directed by David Ash
Starring Bethany Ford Binkley, Peter Christian Hansen, Clarence Wethern, & Bob Davis
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Described as a "cerebral drama", David Ash's indie film Twin Cities is a complete mind f*ck of existential ponderings, religious debates, relationship quandaries, and a general rolling of the eyes to the meaning of life. Buffeted by a touching and sharp script, and two standout central performances, this has all the trappings of an indie classic.
John (Clarence Wethern) and Emma (Bethany Ford Binkley) exist in a typical rom-com set up. With a baby on the way and their two independent lifestyles in jeopardy, it is only natural that their silver-tongued repartee starts to magnificently underperform in their quirky coupling. However, unlike a rom-com storyline, Ash's story is quite a bit bleaker, tackling some heavier themes of existential isolation, identity crises, and an unrelenting kick-in-the-balls-from-life factor which ends up dominating many of the plot developments. As a result, the story is painfully believable and utterly engaging.
The characters are sketched with spectacular foibles and are generally endearing for their lifelike reactions to the hurdles they end up facing. The dark humour which punctuates the scenes like a glass spike is both acutely funny and dangerously perceptive, delivered with impeccable timing from the main performers. Indeed, the dialogue between Ford Binkley and Wethern is like a gut-punch dose of reality when it comes to modern monogamy. Ford Binkley delivers an astonishing performance in her turn, and Wethern is as remarkably impressive during Twin Cities, elevating this potentially preachy tale into something of a masterful example of indie storytelling.
A sequence between John and his pastor (played by Bob Davis) is particularly enjoyable. Littered with arbitrary issues about the role of god in modern society, as well as introspective examinations on the nature of faith, love, and death. This is then mirrored when Emma talks to the pastor later in the story, with equally as much thunderous realism. These two scenes alone could outmatch huge numbers of short films which attempt to dissect the meaning of life.
The filmmaking is deftly in tune with the nature of the story, capturing the emotional intensity against the crippling isolation brilliantly. One scene where Emma talks to a support group is a masterclass in pathos. A little more score in places could have heightened the emotional core, especially in the latter section of the story, but I admit there would also have been a risk of undermining the fantastic atmosphere which was curated previously. It just felt that the audience was invested enough in these characters to pull a few levers.
Overall though, a heartbreakingly beautiful film that delves deep into the recesses of humanity and serves up a bittersweet serving of grief, joy, love and so much more without ever missing a comedic beat. Kudos.
Watch the movie trailer for Twin Cities below...