Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman.Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman.Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman.
Beverly and Elliot Mantle (both played by Jeremy Irons) are identical twins that from birth have been so close. So close that they have studied the same profession, work together as gynecologists and literally share everything (including lovers) between them. This symbiotic relationship begins to shatter when a new patient, actress Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold), enters in their life. The problem? Beverly, who has always been the shy, introverted one of the two, has fallen in love with her, and doesn't see to be too happy with the idea of sharing with his brother anymore. As the tag-line reads, "Separation Can Be A Terrifying Thing".
Loosely based on Bari Wood and Jack Geasland's book "Twins" (which was also loosely based on a strange, real-life case), the plot at first sounds like something out of a typical made for TV drama; however, "Dead Ringers" is still a Cronenberg film and so it is still full of the themes that the famed director loves. Taking the themes of identity and the duality of identity as a start point, Cronenberg tells the story of a perfect organism made out of two persons. The Mantle brothers are physically two men, but psychologically they work as one, and the "invasion" that Claire means in their life is like a viral infection that begins to corrode the brothers from the inside.
With a perfectly developed script, Cronenberg details the effects of this "infection" with surgical precision, and while the film is not as violently graphic as his previous efforts, it is by no means less disturbing. This progression to a more psychological exploration of horror (see first in "Videodrome" and "The Dead Zone") is marked by a subtler cinematography, that with a cold, sterile setting gives life to the horrors unleashed by the breakdown of the brothers. In simple words, "Dead Ringers" is a movie that mixes perfectly horror, drama and romance in ways that few films dare to attempt. This is the masterpiece that would lead the way to Cronenberg's more psychological projects like "M. Butterlfy", "Crash" or "Spider".
While Cronenberg's direction is outstanding, the film wouldn't be the same without the talent of Jeremy Irons as the two main characters. In the difficult role of giving life to two different yet similar men, Irons succeeds with amazing results delivering what probably is his best performance in his career. As Beverly he is shy, introverted and almost charming; while as Elliot he becomes this manipulative smooth-talker who feels his balance threatened by the inclusion of Claire in their lives. While certainly is Irons who receives most of the praise, the films is also benefited by Geneviève Bujold's acting as Claire. Her performance is very natural and fresh, showing truly a believable chemistry with Irons as her character enters the private world of the Mantle brothers.
Personally, I think "Dead Ringers" is a flawless job by an artist reaching maturity; however, I can understand why some would have troubles with it. The main problem is definitely that horror fans expecting something like "The Brood" or "The Fly" won't find a lot of that graphic horror here, but at the same time, people expecting a normal romance-drama film will find really disturbing scenes. It's really hard to approach "Dead Ringers" that way, so my best advice would be to go with an open mind to discover one of the most amazing films of the 80s.
"Dead Ringers" has become a new favorite of mine, due to it's interesting complex plot and the subtle classy direction by Cronenberg. It's an unusual film by him, but no less amazing, as it has his trademark all over the place. Probably one of the most beautiful horror films ever made, "Dead Ringers" is a timeless masterpiece. 10/10
- Oct 26, 2006