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'Twin Town': Double Trouble

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 30, 1997

‘Twin Town’: Double Trouble With "Trainspotting" producers Andrew MacDonald and Danny Boyle behind the scenes, the analogy is predictable: "Twin Town" is a Welsh "Trainspotting." But "Twin Town," a mean-spirited farce, bears no positive resemblance to last year’s fabulous, Scottish movie about heroin addiction. It’s junk of a different kind.

One day, in the industrial, Welsh town of Swansea, a roofer called Fatty Lewis (Huw Ceredig) falls from a ladder and breaks his leg. His sons, sociopathic twins Julian (Llyr Evans) and Jeremy (Rhys Ifans), immediately demand retribution from Bryn Cartwright (William Thomas), Fatty’s arrogant, seedy contractor. But Bryn laughs in their faces.

This wasn’t the wisest thing to do: The psycho-twins (who suggest a pair of Welsh Krays) are drug-crazed, car-jacking, sit-in-the-bathtub-together types who take vengeance seriously. They have their own share of problems, including Greyo (Dorien Thomas) and Terry (Dougray Scott), drug-busting cops who are trying to catch them at their various criminal games. There’s one more complication: Bryn has connections.

The movie, directed by Kevin Allen, who wrote it with Paul Durden, starts off with kinetic, crazy abandon. But the momentum is soon lost, as we meet a series of splenetic, or simply uninteresting, characters who don’t do much more than crowd the story.

Swansea is not the most attractive town in the world. One character in the movie reiterates Dylan Thomas’s description of the place as an "ugly lovely town." But "Twin Town" forgets the "lovely" part of the quotation. It presents such a toxic vision of life that you’re left gasping for air. The movie—meant to be a black comedy—hates everything, or everyone, that has the misfortune to cross its misanthropic path. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the "Seinfeld" gang would say. But in this case, there’s nothing comedic beyond the nihilism—just a small crowd of Welshmen and other Brits wreaking vengeance in the vilest ways possible, selling or using cocaine, beating people up, getting drunk or just yelling at their families. If there’s a point, it seems to be that Swansea’s predominant industry is venom, fueled by a deeply entrenched cultural self-hatred. Unfortunately, the humanity and the punch lines are definitely missing.

TWIN TOWN (R) — Contains profanity, violence, sex scenes, nudity and depictions of cruelty to animals.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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