“Of all the melancholy topics, what, according the universal understanding of mankind, is the most tragic?”
I’m liking Frances Ford Coppola’s late career renaissance as an indie film maker. Before 2007’s Youth Without Youth, he hadn’t made a movie in a decade. His comeback was audacious and ambitious and big and grand. And while Youth Without Youth was by no means his best movie, it was great to see Coppola back, making something weird and original. He followed it up with the family relationship drama of Tetro, a black and white almost melodrama that never shied away from making its characters hard to like. Then came the bat shirt craziness of Twixt.
Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is a horror writer. He’s had success in the past, but now he’s reduced to doing a book signings for almost no one in a small town that doesn’t even have a book shop. The only person to show up for the author’s hardware store appearance is local Sherriff, Bobby LeGrange (Bruce Dern). Trying to ingratiate himself with Baltimore, LeGrange takes him to the local morgue to see the body of young girl, killed by a wooden stake to the heart.
Suffering from writer’s block, and riddled with guilt over the death of his daughter, Baltimore falls into a restless sleep that night, where he meets Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin) in his dreams, as well as V (Elle Fanning), the girl currently laying dead in the morgue. The next morning, tales from LeGrange about a group of supposed evil teens who practice weird rituals at a nearby lake inspire Baltimore to start working on a new story. But first, he has to get to the bottom of V’s death via a few more dream encounters with her and Poe.
I’m not sure if the story of Twixt really holds together. It never really interested me enough to pay close attention. And I have the feeling Coppola had a similar lack of interest in the specifics of the story too. Twixt was originally made with a crazy plan that Coppola would be able to re edit and remix it on the fly, in front of a live audience. The idea being, no two screenings of the movie would ever be identical. That turned out to be infeasible, but the looseness of the story to accommodate that ambition remained.
I’ve seen Twixt described as a horror movie, but I wouldn’t call it that. There’s a mystery element to the story, but I wouldn’t call it a mystery either. Twixt is an oddity. There’s really no other way to describe it. It’s clearly the work of a fully independent artist making his art on his terms.
Coppola is a dude who has gone broke several times over and had just as many career lows as his immense highs. Now, he seems to have no interest in making movies for anyone but himself. And as long as he keeps the budgets low enough, he has the means to do just that. While Twixt might not be the greatest movie, it is great to have someone as nutty as Frances Ford Coppola telling his stories and making his movies his way.