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Philadelphia Film Festival Review #1: Brothers of the Head
Title: Brothers of the Head
Evoking both This Is Spinal Tap and Twin Falls, Idaho, Brothers of the Head is a mockumentary featuring conjoined Siamese twins who briefly fronted a punk band in the 1970s. The Spinal Tap comparison is obvious. The Twin Falls reference is particularly appropriate because, unlike the other, comical Siamese twin movie, the Farrelly Brothers’ Stuck On You, this movie is serious.
It is also dark and disturbing, as one would expect considering the subject matter. The movie’s directors, Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, have previously helmed films documenting the work of Terry Gilliam (they directed the magnificent documentary Lost in La Mancha). Apparently, Gilliam’s gift for the absurd has rubbed off.
In the tradition of Gilliam greats like Brazil and The Fisher King, Brothers of the Head is an odd but deathly earnest film. The twins, Tom and Barry, are both bitter and neurotic young men, as one would imagine. The movie shows them drinking heavily, ingesting copious amounts of drugs, and engaged in bitter disputes. They are also shown doing cartwheels together, playing soccer and, in a particularly tender scene, washing each other in the tub.
The majority of the film takes place in the mid-70s. The film’s biggest strength is how it manages to almost perfectly recapture that era. The wardrobe and dialogue (not to mention film stock) so seamlessly match that era that it’s easy to forget this is all make-believe. Even the twins’ sour punk attitude, and the equally atrocious music, is perfectly attuned with the period.
The only drawback of the film is its lack of any sympathetic characters. Unlike the conjoined pair in Twin Falls, Idaho – which in all others respects is an inferior film – Tom and Barry have got themselves quite the attitude. However, seeing as how this is a film about punk rock and the 70s, the only way to maintain credibility may have been to turn the boys into snarling youths.
Ultimately, this is an intelligent and well made film. It may be too eccentric to be for all tastes, but anyone who is intrigued by the idea of Siamese twins singing punk rock probably won’t be disappointed.
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