Monday, November 12, 2012

Dead Ringers

 (1988) ****

Jeremy Irons plays duel roles as Elliot and Beverly Mantle, twin gynecologists who share everything in life, including their women. The Mantle twins are geniuses who finished at the top of their class in med school even inventing  a new and innovative surgical tool becoming the pride of the school. Their women’s fertility practice is top notch the awards and acclamations keep pouring in and nothing could be more perfect. Beverly, the more introverted and serious twin is somewhat socially awkward so Elliot has devised a system where they both get to enjoy the nightlife. Elliot seduces women then Beverly pretends to be Elliot the following night and gets a piece of the action himself. The system works flawlessly until the famous actress Claire Niveau (Genevi√®ve Bujold) steps into their stirrups. Elliot seduces her and has his night as always but when Beverly takes a turn he finds himself completely smitten with Claire. He falls in love with her and clings tight even after nearly losing her when she discovers their perpetration causing a rift between the brothers. Claire draws Beverly into a world of drugs and anguish. He starts to go insane inevitably drawing his twin into madness as they spiral out of control.

In the height of Beverly's madness he creates these medieval surgical tools and nearly kills a patient.

I had seen this film many years ago but could only remember that I thought it was good and nothing else. Well I am glad that I decided to revisit it. I find Jeremy Irons a delight to watch and in two roles it truly is double the pleasure. I’ve seen many films where an actor plays twins and find most of them to retain an unbelievable quality, a certain quirk or character trait that serves as a constant reminder that this is the same actor. Not so in the case of Dead Ringers, Not only do Beverly and Elliot have distinctly different personalities, but their facial expressions are also distinguishable. Sure there are times when it is difficult to discern who is who especially when Beverly is pretending to be Elliot. However it is quite remarkable to see the clear difference in character when they are side by side in many scenes throughout the film. What shakes me about this film is the vulnerability of their patients putting their lives in the hands of these madmen. It’s an unsettling thought provoked by a couple of disturbing scenes. Much different than the bulk of horror that emerged in the ‘80’s Dead Ringers is a real piece of art.

4 comments:

JPX said...

When I was a teenager I watched Dead Ringers and did not like it for some reason. I disliked it so much that I wrote a letter to Fangoria Magazine about it and it got published! I’m sure I disliked it for stupid reasons and your excellent review suggests that it’s time to give it another look. The only thing I really remember are those strange “instruments”.

Catfreeek said...

I remember thinking it was just weird when I first saw it, it's really an adult horror I can totally see how teenage you would hate it, heavy plot and too much man ass.

Octopunk said...

I love this movie! I only saw it one time but I was instantly smitten (and I'm pretty sure I saw it years after it came out).

I'd say it's definitely Cronenberg's best movie. I'll probably have to watch it again. You totally nailed it, Cat. It's art.

DCD said...

I also remember watching this when I was, I'm sure, too young to appreciate it. Definitely sounds worth a revisit!