Twixt (2011): American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s bizarre yet commendable exercise in pretence

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Elle Fanning as V aka Virginia in Twixt (2011), directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Val Kilmer as Hall Baltimore
Twixt (2011) - By Francis Ford Coppola
Our Rating: 7.0
IMDb Ratings: 4.8
Genre: Horror | Thriller
CastVal Kilmer, Bruce Dern and Elle Fanning
Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 88 min

Twixt is 2011 horror thriller film written and directed by legendary American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011. The movie stars Val Kilmer in the lead role of Hall Baltimore—an alcoholic writer on the verge of a creative breakdown. Set in an unknown small town, Twixt’s narrative begins with the mention of a heptahedron clock tower with seven clocks, all of which show different times at any given point. Some kind of devilish influence is accounted for this strange phenomenon—of which the tower itself is said to be the centre—by the town residents. Hall Baltimore, who is on a visit to the town as part of his book tour, inexplicably gets involved in a series of bizarre incidents involving a mysterious young girl called V. The event eventually helps him overcome his creative void and hence ward off an incipient marital turmoil.       

Val Kilmer as Hall Baltimore rendezvous with V aka Virginia (Elle Fanning), Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Twixt (2011): Hall Baltimore meets V
There was a time when Francis Ford Coppola’s name was synonymous with American Cinema. His movies epitomized the 20th century America. His eccentric, cynical, larger-than-life characters came across to the whole world as an embodiment of the modern American men: be it Harry Caul [The Conversation, 1974], Colonel Walter E. Kurtz [Apocalypse Now, 1979], or Don Vito Corleone [The Godfather, 1972]. With as many as five Oscars (not including the esteemed Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award that he received in 2010), two Palme d’Or and countless other prestigious awards under his belt, Francis Ford Coppola arguably is the most celebrated filmmaker of our time. 1970s saw Coppola go from strength to strength as he delivered one blockbuster after another. 80s turned out to be mixed affair for Coppola. But, his great reputation helped him endure the decade. However, 90s posed unprecedented challenges for Coppola as success became more far-fetched than ever.

Val Kilmer Hall Baltimore and Bruce Dern as Sheriff LaGrange inspect a corpse, Twixt, directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Hall Baltimore and Sheriff LaGrange inspect a corpse 
After directing Rainmaker in the year 1997, Coppola decided to take a break from active filmmaking so as to solely experiment with motifs that appealed to his deepest creative urges. The first product of Coppola’s self-indulgence was the enigmatic Youth Without Youth (2007)—a story of a timid professor metamorphosed by a cataclysmic event. Coppola backed it up with yet another ambitious venture: Tetro (2009). While these movies may not be significant from the entertainment point of view, their academic significance cannot be overlooked. The movies serve to be classic examples of unrestraint creativity in cinema—a formidable overture to the limitless scope of cinema. Twixt is no different in this regard. It’s essentially an experimental film with surrealistic undertones that concocts several motifs and transcends genres in a haphazard, unrefined manner. Twixt is a horror thriller with a self-contradictory, unaccountable comical touch that one generally associates with the works of Franz Kafka. In fact, it wouldn’t be unfair to treat the movie as an exercise in pretence—something that even Coppola wouldn’t be reluctant to acknowledge.

Alden Ehrenreich as Flamingo in Twixt (2011), directed by Francis Ford Coppola
A Still from Twixt (2011)
Twixt can as well be looked upon as Coppola’s biographical attempt inasmuch as it tries to capture the story of a writer doing through a difficult phase in his life. While Hall Baltimore’s plight starts with the accidental death of his daughter during a boating adventure, Coppola’s decline as a filmmaker started with the death of his eldest son, back in 1987. In Twixt, Hall Baltimore leverages on the bizarre events and his own wild fantasies—in which he often seeks advice and guidance from his idol, the American literally genius, Edgar Allan Poe—to come out of his literary void. Similarly, Coppola’s decision to disassociate himself from commercial filmmaking can be interpreted as a deliberate attempt on his part to escape the expectations of his ever so demanding producers. Coppola’s hermitic descent into self-indulgence is characteristic of a perturbed artist desperately on the lookout for some divine source of inspiration.

Val Kimer as Hall Baltimore and Ben Chaplin as Edgar Allan Poe in Twixt (2011), Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Ben Chaplin as Edgar Allan Poe (Right) in Twixt (2011)
Overall, Twixt is as an attempt of a lost artist, in great dilemma over the question of his own genius, desperate to demonstrate his mastery over his art to the whole world. Twixt is a bizarre, beautiful, visually stunning, and deeply convoluted work of cinema that owing to a deliberate attempt on the maker's part gets lost in translation. But, it’s this nebulosity that separates art from exact science, and that’s precisely where Coppola succeeds. Another factor that makes Twixt memorable is Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Hall Baltimore. Kilmer's pressing performanceundoubtedly his best in yearsis highly reminiscent of the remarkable performances he delivered during the 90s, right from his mesmerizing portrayal of Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991) to his nigh flawless portrayal of Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993). Kilmer is well supported up by the rest of the cast with special mention of Bruce Dern and Ben Chaplin. In fact, the latter's portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe remains a major high point of the movie. Twixt by no means is in the same league as Coppola’s greatest works and in many ways is even inferior to Youth Without Youth and Tetro, but nonetheless it is an honest attempt on the part of an artist to discover his lost self. While the conventional film enthusiasts can afford to give the film a miss, it’s a must watch for hardcore Coppola fans.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

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Previous Review: Cosmopolis (2012)

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  1. Interesting review!!! Well, I agree with you that it's one strange movie that comes across as some kind of a nightmare to an average movie goer.

  2. Well, I can't really differ with you on that one. Twixt is indeed not meant for the average viewer who is not accostomed to deciphering an artist lost in self-indulgence :-)


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