Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas, Stephen Lack, Nick Nichols, Lynne Cormack, Damir Andrei, Miriam Newhouse, David Hughes, Richard W. Farrell, Warren Davis, Jonathan Haley, Nicholas Haley
Written by: David Cronenberg, Norman Snider, based on the book by Bari Wood, Jack Geasland
Directed by: David Cronenberg
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 111
Date: 08/09/1988

Dead Ringers (1988)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Twin Creeps

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Dead Ringers on DVD

This is arguably David Cronenberg's masterpiece. He took the body conscious themes of his previous work and adapted them to a new, adult milieu, leaving behind (for better or worse) his exploitation horror films. Dead Ringers has an amazing, chilly, clinical look to emphasize the intellectual and emotional state of its characters, identical twins Beverly and Elliot Mantle (both played by Jeremy Irons). The colors are mainly dull and metallic with the striking exception of red in certain scenes. The gynecologist brothers invent a bizarre set of new tools more organically friendly to the female body. They both begin dating an actress (Genevieve Bujold), pretending to be the same brother, and they both become addicted to various drugs. The film becomes more and more enclosed and cluttered as their nightmare world grows more vivid. Irons' performance is definitely one of the great achievements in cinematic acting, not just because of the astonishing, in-camera "twinning" effects, but because Irons perfectly explores the inner torment of each brother and makes them distinct. (Bujold is no slouch, either.) It's a tough film to watch, and certainly not as much fun as some of Cronenberg's other work, but very worth the effort. The title was going to be Twins, but when a Danny DeVito/Arnold Schwarzenegger took that name first, Cronenberg was forced to change it to the much better Dead Ringers. The Criterion Collection DVD is exceptional, but out of print (so is an early Anchor Bay edition). The 2005 Warner Home Video DVD seems to be the only one available today.

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