Angel Wings in a Flight Case
Review by Ross Anthony

Set in 1955, winter, Montana, the film follows the exploits of a straight-faced ensemble of men in dark coats whose unrewarding job it is to help Northfork city folk depart from their residences. A new power dam has been built and their town is soon to be flooded. But there's also an angel, a tough love preacher, and a ragtag team of spirits lingering in the in between.

Surreal, oddly punny, and yet mostly a meditation on letting go of the dearly departed. Turns out, I'm in the middle of rewrites on a book which shares some elements with this piece, still I certainly can't admit to "understanding" this film (if in fact, each circumstance has some set meaning to decipher). However, I think the film is more concerned with emoting than rationalizing, and it appears to be a very personal film that embraces the spiritual, the serious and the whimsical aspects of leaving life on this earth.

One line in particular resonates. A woman listens intently to a hypothetical scenario in which she drowns. Her response, "So we're dead, then what about our belongings?" A nice reminder that this magical life we have right now (as I type as you read) is temporal. It's beautiful. It's not to be taken for granted.

James Woods gives a grand performance (as always) and Anthony Edwards as Happy, (and his costume designer) deserve applause. But really, all deliver.

Drawbacks? The initial set up of the film is slow, appropriately patient at times -- at other times, drawn out. The film feels a great deal longer than it's 1:45. Initially, you'll be wishing it might get to where it's going and be over, but by the end, you'll be wanting more.

Visually -- this film is as interesting as bleak can be. In American Cinematographer magazine, cinematographer M. David Mullen writes of his work in "Northfork, "We used a number of techniques to desaturate. The most effective was to simply remove as much of the color from in front of the camera as possible. Luckily, the plains of Montana are already stark and monochromatic in the winter. Art direction and wardrobe were rendered almost entirely in shades of gray; locations were painted this way, and we even sewed together a black-and-white American flag and filled ketchup bottles in a diner scene with gray paint." The resulting aesthetic matches the quirkily dismal mood of the film well.

  • Northfork. Copyright © 2003.
  • Starring James Woods, Nick Nolte, Peter Coyote, Anthony Edwards, Claire Forlani, Ben Foster, Clark Gregg, Jon Gries, Daryl Hannah, Michelle Hicks, Kyle MacLachlan.
  • Directed by Michael Polish.
  • Screenplay by Mark Polish, Michael Polish.
  • Produced by Mark Polish, Michael Polish at Paramount Classics.

Grade..........................B+ (strong)

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:02:14 PDT