Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Michael
Polish and co-writer Mark Polish; 'Bare Knuckle Filmmaking –
The Construction of Northfork' featurette; '24 Frame News' segment
on the film; Interview with the Polish brothers; Theatrical trailer;
Photo gallery; Previews of other Metrodome releases.
FOLLOWING Twin Falls, Idaho and Jackpot, Northfork is the third
in a trilogy of films, by the Polish brothers, about the American
In this case, the story revolves around the small American mid-west
town of Northfork, which is about to be flooded as part of a scheme
to create a gigantic reservoir.
The Government has tried everything to get the last few remaining
inhabitants of the community to leave willingly before the sluice
gates are opened and the town is lost forever.
But there are still some who refuse to go: one of the them has
transformed himself into a latter day Noah, by building an Ark
and taking two wives as his crew members.
Another man has nailed his feet to the floor of his house and
is defending his property with a shot gun.
And then there's the ailing child,
Irwin, who has been abandoned by his foster parents, to the care
of the local priest, because they believe he is too weak to survive
the journey out of the valley.
It is the job of the Evacuation Committee to persuade these stragglers
that it is in their best interests to move on.
Over the course of the film we follow the attempts of these six
functionaries, but principally the father and son team of Walter
(James Woods) and Willis (Mark Polish), to do their jobs.
Although it is imbued with a semi-documentary feel, and is shot
in black and white, this is a film brimming with creativity and
The Polish brothers draw on the Americans' legendary love for
their land, and the myths of the mid-West, to create a rich magical-realist
landscape, where everyday folks are offered the wings of angels
as inducement to leave, and where the sickly Irwin finds the love
and companionship he is looking for in a strange family of other-worldly
As counterpoint to the bizarre lives of the local community,
the writers emphasise the stark, uniform existences lived by the
members of the Evacuation Committee. But even here the commonplace
is transformed into the comic by detailing the blandness of their
lives so acutely that even the simple task of ordering lunch becomes
a surreal, bureaucratic ritual.
Small in budget but big in heart, this is a fine film.