Thursday, November 26, 2015

1004. Dead Ringers (1988)

Running Time: 116 minutes
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: David Cronenberg, Norman Snider, from the novel Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland
Main Cast: Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas
Click here to view the trailer


If you're reading this, it means that it's Thanksgiving morning in the U.S. - so happy Thanksgiving to you Americans. If you're elsewhere in the world - happy Thursday! In reality, it's Sunday evening, as I've taken a liking to post dating my reviews to spread them out throughout the week and so as not to bury anything that has just been posted - namely, my MY WEEK IN FILM post. Anyway, Dead Ringers...

Man, just imagine if surgeons actually did wear red? How much more scary would surgery be!?

For Jeremy Irons, the film meant double duty - as he played twin gynecologists, Beverly and Elliot Mantle - two totally different personalities, who are both a lot loony in their own way. Elliot is the dominant twin - cocky and confident, ready to take on the world, one vagina at a time! Meanwhile, Beverly is his opposite - a shy, submissive sibling who has zero luck with the ladies, yet excels in his field, alongside his twin. While not Siamese twins, the two are basically inseparable, sharing an apartment & a medical practice together, not to mention pretty much everything else - including women. In fact, when actress Claire Niveau (Bujold) comes to their office for an appointment one day, it is Elliot whose eye she catches first, as he seduces her, all the while examining the the cause of her infertility. After getting her heated up, however, Elliot passes her off to Beverly, who sleeps with her and as a result, becomes emotionally attached to her. Basically, the rest of the film is just about Beverly's downfall as he becomes dependent on Claire;s affection and the drugs she introduces him to. He becomes a full blow, prescription drug addict and spirals completely out of control when he becomes convinced that Claire is cheating on him. Meanwhile, Elliot begins to worry about Beverly, as he becomes so dependent on the prescription pain pills that he can no longer function, eventually getting the brothers banned from the hospital where they practice, ruining their medical aspirations.

As much as I hate to, I wanted to start out the review portion of my Dead Ringers article by stating how boring it was. It's a word I don't like to use when describing films I dislike, but on rare occasions I make exceptions. However, I then realized that I didn't need to even consider using that word, because even though I highly disliked Dead Ringers, it was as far from boring as it could get. Allow me to throw some phrases & sentences at you and show you what I mean: "gynecological instruments for operating on mutant women", Genevieve Bujold gnawing at a fatty mass conjoining the Mantle twins, Jeremy Irons playing two completely different characters and nailing both roles while differentiating two separate personalities. These do not sound like the buzz words of a boring movie to me. Confusing movie? Sure. Weird movie? Definitely. But I certainly can't say it was boring. I watched this movie with a sometimes disgusted, sometimes befuddled look on my face and really wanted to be able to make more out of it, but alas, I couldn't.

What was Dead Ringers, but a movie about a socially awkward man falling in love for the first time? I kept waiting for the film to stray away from the love story, of Beverly's infatuation with Claire Niveau and turn into something more, but really it never did and besides the drug addiction angle, the film felt undeveloped, relying on the odd nature of it's director to get it through to the end credits. As if to say, "let's throw some 'mutant gynecological intruments' at them and that'll take their minds off the fact that we really have no story". I mean, sure, I guess you could cry "character development" and argue that the Mantle twins are ripe for dissection, but I never felt like a bond between us and those characters was ever strong enough to merit hinging the whole film upon.

I won't argue the talent of Jeremy Irons, someone who I'm, for the most part, completely unfamiliar with as an actor. A quick peek at his filmography and sure enough, I've only ever seen one other Jeremy Irons picture - the forgettable Reversal of Fortune. This performance made me want to pick out five more Irons' movies from Netflix and dig a little deeper into his body of work. To perfect not one character, but two, is a feat that deserves applauding However, that is kind of his job isn't it - to turn in a good performance? And while I applaud Irons, I wouldn't call his performances so good that I'd want to rearrange my favorite actors list or anything. Call it "really good", but not "blow away good". On the other hand, you've got Genevieve Bujold, who has since fallen off the face of the Earth and for good reason. She was both unpretty and untalented and whomever convinced her to pursue a career as an actress, deceived her.

Dig that tourniquet & surgical clamps sex scene!

Dead Ringers is going to be a "love it or hate it" movie. Fans of Cronenberg and his off the beaten path style will laud the film for it's uniqueness and ideas that challenge the ordinary. However, fans of a more conventional style of filmmaking will probably hate "Ringers" and for good reason. While Irons is good, maybe even great, as the Mantle twins, his performance isn't great enough to make you stop in your tracks and go back to make sure he wasn't robbed of an Oscar. Bujold is as plain as you can be and still be given work in Hollywood and honestly, giving her any work was probably a mistake. The film was too confusing for yours truly, which may be a fault of my own. I was constantly leaning over to ask my wife, "is that Beverly? I thought this was supposed to be Elliot? Who's the one in the red track suit?" While I wanted to like Dead Ringers, I simply didn't and give it my lowest of recommendations.

RATING: 3.5/10  It certainly will make you take notice, but in the end, you'll notice that the notice you took wasn't anything worth noticing. Nuff said.

November 22, 2015  9:24pm


  1. Well, maybe not totally 'love or hate it' .. I did neither, but i'd agree that is was just .. not that engaging or interesting ...

    1. I could hardly find a harsh word against this one on message boards and comments sections on places like iCheck. I just do NOT get the appeal.


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