In a near-empty Northfork orphanage, Father Harlan gently tends to Irwin, an eight-year-old who lies between a dream state and death. As orphanage caretaker Harlan reads aloud about Northfork's years-ago forced evacuation to make way for a hydro-electric dam, Irwin's imagination takes flight. While a team of six men evacuate the last remaining citizens of the town, Irwin, too, invents a cast of characters to prepare himself for his own evacuation. (the above states the caretaker - who is actually the priest - is reading about a years-ago evacuation. In the movie, the evacuation is taking place as the boy lays dying!)Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Mr Stalling says that he is waiting for a sign from God, when Walter O'Brien visits him at the ark. Walter imparts a tale about when the water has risen, men will come by in a boat to take him and the two Mrs Stallings's to safety. They will not go, because they are waiting for a sign and they will drown. And God will say, I sent you a boat, what more did you want? This story also appears in the The West Wing season one episode "Take This Sabbath Day" and is told by the Karl Malden character, Father Thomas Cavanaugh. See more »
When the six committee members get out of their three cars at the dam, we hear eight doors slam. See more »
[reading a letter]
To the loving O'Brien family. It has been brought to our attention that the remains of a Mrs. Patricia O'Brien have yet to be excavated. Please make arrangements immediately.
See more »
When Northfork debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, many people didn't like it because they felt it was boring and too slow. While I agree that it was slow (one of the slowest movies of the year), in no way was it boring. As Roger Ebert said, `there has never been a movie like Northfork.' I usually don't agree with Ebert, but for once he speaks the truth. Although John Sayles' Sunshine State may have some of the same immediate themes, nothing that I have ever seen or known of can even compare to the striking originality of the Polish Brothers' Northfork.
Northfork is a perfect example of how many times it's better to trek an extra few minutes to go to an art-house film instead of the latest Jack Black movie. The plot isn't some hackneyed, cookie-cutter plot; it's just so strikingly original. A small town in Montana named Northfork has a dam nearby that is about to be taken down. Therefore, the entire town must be evacuated. Some people, however, just don't want to leave. In a side plot, a young orphan (Duel Farnes) is very sick and bedridden; he's being taken care of by Father Harlan (Nick Nolte). The boy imagines himself as a fallen angel, so to speak, who help him out through his time of sickness.
Although much of the movie is straightforward, some of it could give David Lynch a run for his money. There's odd weather patterns, a weird, wooden, huge dog thing, and symbolism that would make Fellini proud. It's not as overall confusing as a Lynch film, but it's still quite odd. That's what makes Northfork so great: it's so out of the ordinary and yet so simple and plausible.
Northfork has a magical feel to it: it's almost like you're watching something you're not quite sure what it is but you feel entranced by it. As I said earlier, I agreed with Ebert on how this movie is unlike any other. However, I disagree when he says that it is `not entertaining'. He goes on to say it's just `enthralling.' Perhaps he just thought he should give it good reviews because everyone else is, but in lieu of how slow it was, I still thought it was very entertaining, something many dramas now can't do.
Northfork may not be the quickest movie or the most popular movie, but if you can get to and through it, you'll be extremely surprised, as I was.
My rating: 8/10
Rated PG-13 for brief sexuality.
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