Francis Ford Coppola’s Poe-driven, dream fueled dramatic horror film “Twixt” is an artful and fractured amalgamation of curious themes and lesser ones that come together and drift apart in the illusory intersections of otherworldly encounters. It is less horror as psychological happenstance, more apt to an atmosphere of questioning in a landscape of mirrors than a traditional plot point based genre film. For this Coppola treads purposefully airy, makes disjointed a way of pressuring the viewer to concede their addiction to grand theatrics and accept the elusive nature of inner spaces and other dimensions. Working in such curious places and constructing such stylized scenarios for a cast of broken souls and restless spirits is indeed a precarious and risky maneuver, given Coppola’s track record since choosing smaller, more intimate and personal films. The result, while rewarding to Coppola aficionados and otherworldly adventurists, “Twixt” succeeds in ways and means that are simply not for everyone.
“Twixt” is about dead-end roads and the distracted ambition of the travelers we find there in a makeshift world about middle grounds between dreams and the indecision of lost souls. We are invitees to the inky interiors of Coppola’s own perplexed life and the accumulated imaginings of his career. If “Twixt” accomplishes anything it is to take us one and all on a wayward journey of self investigation. At the same time all this wandering challenges our individual morality and ethical responses to boogie men and monsters of man-made origins. For our willingness to embrace Coppola’s normalcy and acceptable vagueness he is defenseless to flawed interpretations and confused reactions. Perhaps the disclaimer should read, “..come all ye the faithful willing to embrace abnormal as a neighbor and not an adversary..” less the scenes unfold and then blur, come together only to dissipate in sunlight and uncertainty. Then again we are wanton in our funeral pyres for our pop culture deities and celebrities du jour. Coppola makes no apologies for working from his own personal experiences and the film is the better for his immutable passions. This is also where the story truly exceeds the limitations of the medium to reveal the artist in his art. This is not to say mainstream audiences are interested in what they find, which by the looks of things they didn’t and still don’t – but if you take anything away from this review be it the inspiration to divorce yourself of practiced expectations, dim the lights and set off for untainted and personal discovery.
If “Twixt” seems convoluted or otherwise rigid with meaningfulness, it was perhaps destined to fail with mainstream audiences in the same way Kevin Smith‘s “Red State” (my review here) abandoned the kitschy gold foil of the funnyman’s repertoire for a muddy genre flick blurring the pulpit of his politics with the escapist-glee of the Cineplex. I am also reminded of the fashionable newcomer Duncan Jones‘ and how he burnt the bridges of a promising film career with his second feature, the baffle-able “Source Code” (my review here). Maybe the would-be viewer is well advised to take a film of the elsewhere less traveled in stride, similarly differently-destined to be enjoyed and even resurrected a time or two after the fact, by truer souls than anyone in the midst of predictable media. Perhaps Coppola’s most salient success is his characterization of the unknown forces in the universe in a film about intangible feelings where the only believable reaction to ghosts and apparitions is the exact opposite found in the films of lesser talents and broader mainstream accomplishments.
If you find yourself curious and compelled to poke about in unknown places, if you peer into mirrors and windows searching for an inkling of otherness, if your medium between the ether of your life and what must certainly be other realms of sensations and surreptitious meetings of the heart, soul and elsewhere, then by all means let yourself go awhile and live in the moments for there we are truly free from prescriptions and the artless maladies of modernity – what Baudelaire described as the consequences of conurbation or the melding of metropolises into a greater concentration of blasé that devours the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life, where the only cure is art.
In many ways Coppola speaks to the growing sense of distance and disconnect in audiences today, our sometimes overzealous appetites that prevent us from wanting crossroads in a film about crossroads. The fact that Coppola had envisioned a much more involved and personal experience with a concept film that ultimately fails with mainstream audiences suggests we have yet to separate our expectations from the potential for other possibilities of entertainment. Yet another layer of potential in an era of excessiveness and obviousness that is far more telling than anything – confirming the difficulty of simplicity both in sticking to your original intentions and catering to the hungry throngs of fans and others desperate for greatness and unwilling to accept the expansive universe of lesser magnanimity.
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil
Mais les vrais voyageurs sont ceux-là seuls qui partent Pour partir; coeurs légers, semblables aux ballons, De leur fatalité jamais ils ne s'écartent, Et, sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons! But the true voyagers are only those who leave Just to be leaving; hearts light, like balloons, They never turn aside from their fatality And without knowing why they always say: "Let's go!"