Newest Review: ... a bit too short on action and long on boring psychological bits. There is just one extra with the DVD - a theatrical trailer. I really... more
Dead Ringers (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Dead Ringers (DVD)
Advantages: Jeremy Irons is great
Disadvantages: Slow, dull, dark
Elliot and Beverly Mantle are identical twins, who grow up to become successful gynecologists. However, the relationship isn't completely even; Elliot tends to be the leader, whereas Beverly follows. The same goes for their relationships with women; Elliot finds them and then passes them on to Beverly when he has finished, although the women are never aware of the substitution. Then along comes Claire Niveau, a well-known actress, who has fertility issues. For the first time, Beverly falls in love with Claire, which puts his relationship with Elliot in jeopardy. Even worse, Claire helps Beverly become addicted to drugs and starts having vivid dreams about abnormal reproductive organs. With Beverly heading for a breakdown, where will this leave Elliot? Will their substitution secret be revealed?
Jeremy Irons plays both Elliot and Beverly Mantle in what has been a highly critcally appraised performance. Loosely based on real life gynecologists, Stewart and Cyril Marcus, there is no doubt that Irons' performance is outstanding. It cannot have been easy to give both characters their own identity, while they had so many similarities, but he managed beautifully. Even though the two characters look identical, it is almost always possible to tell who is who based on their personalities, even when they are filmed in the same scene - although initially, it is hard to work out who is who. Neither are particularly likable; they are certainly oddballs who have their own way of looking at life, but they are nevertheless intriguing and Irons has made them fit the film perfectly. I would go as far as to say that without Jeremy Irons, this film would have been little more than ordinary.
Claire Niveau is played by Genevieve Bujold, and is another character who is well portrayed, but isn't very pleasant to watch. She comes across as being a very selfish woman, probably because of her desire to persuade Beverly to start taking drugs. She is a Canadian actress who is most famous for her role as Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days, in which she starred with Richard Burton. In this film, I think she was perfect for the role - she is not a perfect, fresh-faced beauty, but, like Jeremy Irons, is slightly craggy and very natural in the way that she looks. That is not to say she isn't beautiful, because she is; it's just that she isn't the usual Hollywood Miss Perfect, who, if cast, could have turned this film into a mockery.
Directed by Canadian director David Cronenberg, who is probably best known for his reworking of The Fly in 1986, I had high expectations of this film. The synopsis sounds wonderful and, with the quality of the lead actor and the director, it seemed as though it couldn't go far wrong. Nevertheless, I struggled with it. I loved Irons' performance - I can't fault that - but overall, the film seemed very slow and dark. By dark, I don't just mean the story, I mean the overall colours of the picture. Every scene seems to be filmed in the semi-dark; this is probably deliberate, because most scenes are filmed inside, but I would really have appreciated the odd flash of colour. I am a great fan of Asian film because of the use of colour, so maybe I am biased, but I found the dullness here eventually matched my overall opinion of the film.
It is hard to place Dead Ringers (1988) into a specific genre. It is probably a thriller, but there are some aspects of horror as well, although they are very subtle. Nevertheless, this is an incredibly creepy film. The lack of colour adds to that, but it is really the knowledge that the twins are not your average gynecologists. This is made clear right at the start of the film when they are just young boys and very factual in their approach to sex. They are then shown as students, with a liking for rather dated gynecological equipment. It is this equipment, which features regularly throughout the film, that fills the viewer with trepidation; it is clear that something awful is going to happen at some point, but we are kept guessing all the way through.
The deeply unpleasant parts of the film make it suitable for the classification of 18 that it has. The gynecological implements are likely to make any woman's eyes water, and they are occasionally used, particularly in a recurring dream that Beverly has. Then there is a discussion of a woman having sex with a Retriever. There are also a couple of sex scenes that show a close-up of Claire's face as she is orgasming - although there is little else that is explicit. This is not, however, the sort of film that I can imagine many young people wanting to watch anyway - it is a bit too short on action and long on boring psychological bits.
There is just one extra with the DVD - a theatrical trailer.
I really wanted to like this film, but struggled to do so. I think that it is more than just the darkness that follows the twins about their business that turned me against it, but I find it hard to put my finger on it. The subject matter certainly isn't very pleasant - but I've seen, and liked, a lot worse. I think it's possibly too psychological for me when combined with the dullness of the background and the script. There's a feeling that the script has been kept as simple as possible, which is something I would usually appreciate if the visual side was more attractive. As it is, it was just a bit too depressing and I found myself feeling unusually dejected at the end of it. Jeremy Irons' performance saves it from being so dull that it was unwatchable. Nevertheless, there are clearly a lot of people who disagree with me about this film - on imdb.com, it is rated 7.3 out of 10, based on over 12,000 votes. If it sounds like something you would enjoy, then give it a go, by all means. I rate it as average though - 3 stars out of 5.
The DVD is available from play.com for £6.99.
Running time: 116 minutes
Summary: Didn't meet my expectations