You won’t find too many movies about duality that are this stylish, haunting and perversely comic. Like the most provocative work of writer-director Alan Rudolph (Choose Me, Trouble in Mind), Equinox leaves you in a heady daze. Shot in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Equinox is the story of twins — both played spectacularly by Matthew Modine — who are separated at birth. Henry Petosa, adopted by a garage mechanic (M. Emmet Walsh), grows up a fearful loner. Freddy Ace, a driver for a mobster (Fred Ward), is a sadist with a schizoid wife (Lori Singer) and twin girls; he says that killing makes him feel like God.
It’s Sonya (Tyra Ferrell), a morgue attendant, who finds a letter that might solve the mystery of the boys’ parentage and unite them so they can share a legacy of $4 million. Rudolph paints a bleak picture of urban America — streets are jammed with the homeless, and lotteries sell false hopes that only intensify the feeling of isolation. Henry’s hooker neighbor Rosie (Oscar winner Marisa Tomei in another standout turn) calms her baby with one hand and gets a firm grip for a blow job with the other. Henry hangs up posters of castles and fantasizes about escaping with Beverly (Lara Flynn Boyle), who may be even more desperate than he is.
When the twins meet under violent circumstances, Henry decides to challenge fate. The climax, with Henry standing at the edge of a canyon, is oddly hopeful. Equinox gives you the sensation of free-falling in a dream that’s impossible to shake. It’s an exhilarating workout.