Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dead Ringers

Dead Ringers; drama, Canada/ USA, 1988; D: David Cronenberg, S: Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi von Palleske

Twins Elliot and Beverly were very intimate since kids. As grown ups, they are now gynaecologists in a prestigious clinic in Toronto. Elliot starts an affair with a patient who cannot have children, actress Claire, and then "passes" her over to Beverly to have sex with her as well. However, the sensitive Beverly falls in love with Claire and is devastated when she leaves him after finding out that the two of them shared her in bed. Beverly manages to return to Claire and gives her prescription drugs she asked him for. Beverly becomes a drug addict, which makes his work in the clinic suffer. Elliot takes the same drugs as well to "synchronize" himself with him. In order to "separate the Siamese twins", Beverly kills Elliot. Later, Beverly dies from grief as well.

It is interesting that in the same year as Reitman took a comical approach at the topic of twins with "Twins", director David Cronenberg took a more psychological  - and disturbing - approach with "Dead Ringers", a very bizarre drama. Jeremy Irons is great in the double role of twins, successfully displaying subtle differences between the sensitive Beverly and the cold, rational Elliot, but except for a for inventive tricks (such as when the camera pans from left to right to switch between Irons 1 and Irons 2 or as the one where a camera is driving backwards while Irons 1 and Irons 2 are walking in the same shoot) the sole concept of two twins who are so intimate that they act almost as one personality divided between two people and thus enter a deep crisis when they have to replace that intimacy with a love partner, a different person, is interesting but does not have much else to offer and is never truly thoroughly engaging, stimulative or equipped with some sort of a brilliant point. Likewise, Cronenberg sometimes inserts a few horror moments, which is entirely out of place for such a drama (the dream where Claire "bites off" the tissue connecting Beverly and Elliot who are lying connected in bed; Beverly ordering unknown, bizarre instruments for the operation room). Even though the film is overall overlong, it has its moments (the dialogue "Pain creates character distortion. It is simply unnecessary.") and leaves the viewers guessing who of the twins did exactly what in the end.


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