Salvaging a marriage takes time and trust, two things that John and Emily no longer have. Emily is a writer with a career threatening case of writer's block and deadlines approaching. The pressure to finish her novel grows when John sinks into depression and quits his job... right before before their first baby is due. As they head toward a mutual meltdown, John is given a terminal diagnosis that forces him to reassess his life and attempt to save his marriage-before it's too late. However, inner peace proves elusive, the marriage might be too far gone, and John's life may not be what it seems. This cerebral drama examines work, love, sex, family, death, birth and all of the things that can bring people together... or drive them apart.
Simply state that reality is relative and even stoners will kick you out of the hotbox. It's one of those truths so obvious that hearing it makes people smack their forehead and say, "Duh," yet in the normal course of one's daily life, it seems to be forgotten. We selfishly crusade on social media, insisting that our perspective is the only point of view while completely ignoring the life and experience of anyone else, let alone acknowledging that our personas in and out of cyberspace are two very different people. Minnesota director Dave Ash poignantly examines our relationship to our realities in his locally-produced-on-a-shoestring-budget masterpiece Twin Cities.
John (Clarence Wethern) works in IT for an advanced biochemistry company, but his social awkwardness and OCD have led him away from his pregnant wife Emily (Bethany Ford). Frequent panic attacks bring him under medical scrutiny and ultimately he receives the diagnosis of rectal cancer, sending him on a path of re-examining his life. He strives desperately to rekindle his relationship with Emily while finally accepting his parents for who they are. He even seeks to reconnect with religion by sitting down with a pastor and asking serious questions about what it all means. Things are going well and his life suddenly has meaning until he gets some jarring news.
Only that's not what the film is about at all. Divulging any further would be a disservice to the viewer though.
Basically, Ash has taken some very serious meaning-of-life questions and strung them into a narrative reflecting, not one, but several experiences. Are the stories we create as real as who we are? What does religion actually mean? Can we forgive our parents for being who they are? Why are we so prone to being unhappy and can we change it? Will great tragedy define who we are or tear us apart?
His approach borders on science fiction, though the extreme emotion conveyed by the entire cast makes the story all too real. We feel things watching this because we've been there at one point or another. Or maybe it hasn't happened yet and we see it on the horizon. Perhaps we've seen ourselves in that very moment for no reason other reason than narcissism.
As much as Ash's directorial genius revolves around character driven stories, a word should be said about his visual sense. As previously mentioned, the film was probably made on pennies compared to whatever opened at the box office last Friday, meaning locations provide the majority of the scenery. Ash's exquisite cinematography turns these locations into characters in their own right, revealing he truly understands the meaning of this craft.
With so much of Hollywood focused on one-dimensional superheroes and CGI scenery, it's nice to see something grounded in something that's actually relatable. On that note, Twin Cities won't win an Oscar, either. There's no big money backing or A-list actor drastically changing the way they look. It's just a guy telling a story that means something to him. Isn't that what it's about?
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