Northfork (PG)

Directed by Mark Polish, Written by Mark Polish and Michael Polish
Screening at FACT from 16th-22nd April 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Opinion has been sharply divided by this movie. It has drawn reviews ranging from 'poetry put to pictures' (Movie View) to 'as exciting as watching an old car rust' (Kansas City Star). Somewhere in between the truth may lurk, but it will probably take several viewings to untangle the labyrinthine plot.

Some things about Northfork are quite simple. In 1955, the Alabama state government forcibly evacuated the town to make way for a dam. In the film, we follow six characters (one of whom is played by James Woods) charged with removing the few remaining residents from their land. In an orphanage, the local priest (Nick Nolte) is caring for a dying boy. So far, so normal. But there are also four otherworldly characters, who glory under the names of Flower (Darryl Hannah), Cup of Tea (Robin Sachs), Cod (Ben Foster), and Happy (Anthony Edwards). Who they are, what they do, or whether they are even real is open to discussion. Oh, and there's a kind of wooden dog thing.

There can be no doubt that Northfork is visually stunning – from the sparse desert landscape to the fantastic dreamscape of the surreal elements. But whether it is a masterpiece or the most pretentious story this side of dodgy dossiers is highly debatable.