My questions in bold, Blain’s answers below!
Thanks Blain! My review is below!
Right from the outset, “Dead Ringers” carries a creepy feel to it. The opening title sequence is sketches of frightening, horrific looking medical instruments on blood-red backgrounds. You can tell that this will be an unsettling film.
The movie focuses on a pair of brothers; identical twins (both played by Jeremy Irons) who are medical students when the film begins. Upon graduation, they begin a gynaecology practice and rise to prominence and national recognition at the top of their field.
Things begin to unravel, however, when an actress (Geneviève Bujold) comes in for an examination. She’s seeking an explanation as to why she’s unable to conceive, and their exam reveals that she has a trifurcated cervix; a rare anomaly that borders on being a mutation. This fascinates Elliot (the more confident of the two twins), and he seduces her.
It’s revealed shortly thereafter that the brothers have been playing games with women for years. Elliot seduces them, being the more dashing and self-assured of the two, and then Beverly sees them next, posing as his brother. In fact, they take each other’s places frequently, including during medical matters. It brings into question just how connected they are. Are they psychically linked? Is there any physiological sensation they share? Whatever the answer is, it’s apparent that there’s something unnatural between them.
When Claire (the actress they’re sharing) gets wise to whats going on, she dumps them. This is fine by the devil-may-care Elliot, but causes the weaker Beverly much grief. He was developing genuine feelings for her. So, against his brother’s wishes, he goes back to her, seeking forgiveness, and the two begin their affair anew. This not only causes a rift between the two brothers, it opens the door for Beverly to begin experimenting with drugs with her… to potentially disastrous results.
The course is set for the successful, fêted world that the two twins have built to be torn apart.
As with all Cronenberg films I’ve seen, the world of “Dead Ringers” is slightly askew. Just enough to be discomforting. The brothers are disturbingly close from the outset, and their chosen profession entails putting female patients in positions of extreme vulnerability. The descent into drug abuse, coupled with their ongoing medical practice gives rise to scenes of serious psychological horror.
There’s an enormous amount of food for thought here. Themes of identity, self-worth, duality, co-dependence… the brothers are abnormally tied up in each other. In spite of the fact that their personalities differ vastly from each other, the fact that their appearances are identical robs them of individuality. At the same time, the fact that they have one look, but act completely different evokes themes of duality… almost a Jekyll and Hyde story. Their overly sympathetic feelings for each other draw into question whether or not the two share sensations, and when Beverly cuts the cord (so to speak) by abandoning Elliot for Claire, he immediately falls apart and begins to seek a surrogate to be dependent on.
Between the slide into drug addiction, the psychological thriller elements between the two brothers and Claire, and the occasional horror sequences as the unstable men are allowed to examine patients, “Dead Ringers” winds up a dark, unsettling, slightly off kilter film that will stay with you after you’ve watched it. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but those willing to brave it will find it to be an excellent film. Well acted, and superbly directed. Chilling.
Very nice recommendation, Blain.