The Polish Brothers' NORTHFORK
Movie Review by Dennis D. McDonald
This is a beautiful, entrancing, enigmatic, and mesmerizing movie about death. One death is the death of a child and his relationship with a kind minister and a group ofangels (which only he can see, naturally). The other death is the death of a tiny Montana town in 1955 about to be engulfed by the backed up waters of a soon-to-be-opened hydro-electric dam.
We follow a team of black-suited government agents as they go from house to house trying to convince the few remaining residents to leave. Their adventures are dirge-like as they seek to meet their evacuee quotas. Meanwhile the young boy is dying. We flit back and forth between him (and his angels) and the adventures of the evacuators and evacuees.
The photography is gorgeous, the pacing is stately, the music is sparse. Landscapes and the occasional houses are stunning; what little color there is is used to great effect. The “wide open spaces” seen here are both beautiful and chilling.
The DVD’s extras are worthwhile. Most enlightening is Nick Nolte talking about how he channeledhaving witnessed the death of his own mother in the minister role.
Despite the somber, quiet nature of this film, the best word I can think of to describe it is “stunning,” and I mean that in a low-key, mature, and dramatic/thoughtful way. Don’t expect thunderbolts of emotion. Perhaps if you’ve recently experienced the death of a friend or loved one you’ll understand.
Postscript: immediately before I watched Northfork I watched the “extras” that accompany the director’s edition of Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith in which Lucas, McCallum, and Assembled Multitudes describe the hundreds of people and thousands of hours devoted to creating that film. The difference is scale, substance, and concept between “Sith” and Northforkcould not be greater. As much as I have enjoyed Revenge of the Sith, though, Northfork is another example of how creativity, concept, and emotional involvement can win out over Big Hollywood any day.
Copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald