1997, NR, 105 min. Directed by Kevin Allen. Starring Dougray Scott, Dorien Thomas, Rhys Ifans, Llyr Evans, Sue Roderick, Rachel Scorgie, Brian Hibbard, William Thomas, Jenny Evans.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 20, 1997
Produced by Andrew MacDonald and Danny Boyle -- the pair who brought us Trainspotting and Shallow Grave -- this feature debut by former documentarian Allen is a drug-fueled, nihilistic, free-for-all ride through the streets and alleys of modern-day Swansea, South Wales. While at first glance, Twin Town appears to be a direct continuation of Trainspotting -- right down to its mordant black humor and over-the-top drug use -- it's a far more scattershot affair. Dylan Thomas called Swansea an “ugly, lovely town,” but according to crooked cop-cum-cokehound Terry (Scott), it's just a “pretty, shitty city.” Terry, along with his older (and only slightly less corrupt) partner Greyo (Dorien Thomas), are two of the bizarre ensemble characters in Allen's film. The others are Julian (Evans) and Jeremy (Ifans), a pair of glue-sniffing, bong-sucking, blonde twins with the combined mental prowess of a tractor, who, despite their overriding interest in car theft, plan an elaborate revenge scheme against Swansea top dog (and star roofing contractor) Bryn Cartwright (William Thomas). Also on hand are the twins' slag sister Adie (Scorgie), who works as a receptionist in a massage parlor by day and provides discounts to Greyo on the side by night; Bryn's daughter Bonny (Evans), an aspiring karaoke singer and the secret lover of Dai Rees (Hibbard); and a host of other notables, including a pair of not-long-for-this-world family dogs. Allen's film boasts the same methamphetamine, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink flavor of MacDonald and Boyle's past hits, but, unaccountably, Twin Town lacks the narrative drive to keep up with Trainspotting's Mark Renton and company. If anything, Allen's film tries to pack too much black humor into too small a package. As a gritty, humorous portrait of modern-day Swansea, it's not half bad, but when the film begins resorting to scads of piss jokes and outright death and destruction, it falls flat on its face, and lays there in the filthy Swansea gutter, a victim of its own lowbrow hooliganism. There are some awesomely interesting moments, to be sure: The twins themselves are hilariously overblown caricatures of disaffected youth, from their clumsy rave gear on down to their penetratingly dopey and permanently affixed grins. Real-life siblings Evans and Ifans are perfectly cast; it's almost impossible to imagine them out of character and carrying on a rational conversation. Likewise with Scott and Dorien Thomas, the bottom-feeding coppers who are nearly as dim as their quarry, but only half as stoned. Twin Town is worth a peek for these and other reasons, just don't go expecting Trainspotting 2. As that film's loopy, denser younger brother, it's not half bad, though. Renton would've approved.