It may be an affliction peculiar to critics, but all the way through Twin Town I could not help mentally rounding up all the films with which it shares pronounced affinities. The ease with which I could do this points to what is irritating about this movie – it is a largely derivative, unoriginal piece – but also what is mildly pleasurable.
Stumbling, almost despite themselves, into this mess are two local cops, Greyo (Dorien Thomas) and Terry (Dougray Scott). They are both on the take from Bryn, which compromises their behaviour and sense of morality somewhat. And, to make matters even more explosive and less predictable, Terry is something of a sociopath, given to impulsive, muddled gestures of pure aggro.
The film with which Twin Town will be most compared – but the one it least resembles – is Trainspotting (1996), since the makers of that film serve as producers here. Yes, there is a certain amount of tasteless hi-jinx involving substance abuse and bad language, and a similar sense of the hopelessness of a contemporary milieu.
But Twin Town has little of the energy or
anger that fuelled Trainspotting –
and it certainly lacks that film's high-wire nerve. The difference is
especially evident when the topic of death inevitably comes around. Trainspotting did not flinch from the
horror, and the black humour, of gruesome death.
Director and co-writer Kevin Allen keeps the sprawling plot moving well, and stages some hilarious moments. But it is a repetitive piece which harps endlessly on another theme common to petty-urban-crime movies: the dream of escape shared by all the characters.
Films of this ilk, it seems, have only two options: to cruelly deny characters their desperate, pathetic dreams; or, on the contrary, to suddenly materialise these dreams in a magical, perhaps hyper-ironic fashion. I won't give away which option Twin Town takes, but I will say that it feels easy and pretty uninspiring.
© Adrian Martin July 1997