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  • While I like "The Brood" quite a bit, Dead Ringers gets my vote as Cronenberg's best work.

    Follow along as the twin brothers spiral out of control when they unsuccessfully try to break free from each other. One's more confident, the other more timid. But they depend on each other, and at middle age neither has the psychological strength to be their own person; they still don't have a sense of self. Among many favorite moments, I love the scene where Elliott, the more confident twin, tries to kiss Claire. It's his way of trying to synchronize himself with his brother Beverly, whom Claire has a true connection with. "I'm sorry but I can't", she intones. Elliott turns to the mirror, disturbed. "Am I really that different from my brother?". He absolutely does not know who he is.

    Although it's not without some humor, Dead Ringers is very bleak. It has an emotional intensity that most movies can't touch. It is sad AND beautiful.

    The movie itself *looks* great. Good script, and AWESOME performances from both Irons and Bujold. As another reviewer suggested, watch it twice if you don't like it the first time- it might grow on you.

    This is my all-time favorite movie.
  • Growing up together as social outcasts with only each other for company, twins Elliot and Beverly Mantle become very close. This closeness becomes more like them both sharing one self in two bodies as they study in the same area and eventually become experts in the field of gynaecology. They share everything and few can tell them apart; an arrangement that works well until Beverly falls for a patient (Claire Niveau) and finds that there are things he doesn't want to share with Elliot. As Bev confronts the idea of them being separate for the first time ever, he starts to fall apart mentally and, when Elliot tries to reach out and help him he too is drawn into confusion over identity and an inability to find where one of them stops and the other starts.

    Being a Cronenberg film I knew to expect body horror and, shall I say, an 'unusual' theme and in many ways the film delivered in spades but in a much more cerebral fashion. The plot is not easy to explain but it is a totally convincing breakdown of both Elliot and Beverly as they lose contact with the lines between them (if the lines ever really existed). Of course it is rather extreme but it is relentlessly interesting in terms of the script and the characters. The gynaecological part of the film allows Cronenberg to explore his more usual body horror stuff but this all came second to the much more interesting material that exists in the script. Cronenberg appears to be as fascinated as me by the characters and he directs with a cold eye, letting the creepy atmosphere come from not only the story but every shot, every set and every performance; not only this but this is one of his more accessible films without losing much of what makes Cronenberg Cronenberg.

    Of course a massive part of the film working is two perfect performances from Jeremy Irons, who I have not seen better in any other films. Using special effects as well as the old 'over the shoulder' technique, Irons is able to convincingly be on screen in two characters at the same time, but it is not the shot framing that makes it convincingly two characters, it is Irons' performance that does that. His Beverly is so feeble and has a convincing breakdown; while his Elliot appears much more together but suffers in a different way from the same struggle. Obviously being identical, it is due to Irons that the two characters come across so very different but yet seem just like the same person. In every little scene he manages to stay in character no matter what – it's hard for me to describe, you need to really see it for yourself. Bujold is good in support early on but, as the twins' story gets more complex, her characters feels a bit intrusive and uninteresting, but generally she is good. However, to talk about anyone beyond this is to suggest there is room for them in the film – there isn't. Instead the film is pretty much dominated by two people – and they are both Jeremy Irons, producing two great performances that were vital for the film to work.

    Overall this may be a little too weird for some viewers but many more will find it to be one of their favourite Cronenberg films on the basis that it has the qualities that makes him him but is also a lot more accessible as well. The body horror is there in the background but it is the psychological scarring and confusion that is of much more interest; the script is great even if the plot goes to the usual Cronenberg excesses but it is two perfect performances by Irons that makes it all come together in a compelling and interesting film.
  • Identical twin brothers Beverly and Elly Mantle are successful gynaecologists in Toronto. Their relationship is intense and very close - perhaps too close. The Mantles experiment with sex, drugs and personal identity, to the detriment of their practice, and ultimately of their psychological health.

    This is a David Cronenberg film, so we are in the familiar realm of horror, mind games and perverted science. The director/producer/writer appears in the credits above the title and even ahead of his stars, Irons and Bujold. Essentially, the 'dead ringers' of the title are the brothers, who regard their mental and emotional oneness as being something more. They see themselves as siamese twins, bound by their flesh, and fated to share every experience, even unto death.

    Irons does wonders to play two complex characters in one movie. A new technique called 'motion control' allows the actor to appear as two people in the same frame, but there is also plenty of the old 'body double' method, filming over a shoulder, then reversing the angle.

    As teenage boys, the Mantle twins are clearly very bright, and display a precocious interest in surgery and women's reproductive apparatus. They are also creepy geeks. By the late 1980's they are handsome forty-somethings, and hailed as brilliant gynaecologists by everyone in the medical profession.

    The screen actress Claire Niveau becomes Elliot's patient, and the brothers are soon sharing her. They frequently swap places without her knowledge. She has a unique uterus, and as Beverly (or is it Elliot?) explores this feature with his fingers, it is difficult to tell whether he is examining her or masturbating her. Before long, both brothers are doing both to Claire.

    Elliot is a few minutes older than Beverly, microscopically taller and a nuance darker in colouring, but by nature he and 'baby brother' are utterly different. While Beverly is shy and diffident, Elliot is a callous, manipulative smoothie. When Claire, still unaware that she is sleeping with two men, expresses an interest in mild masochism, Beverly recoils but Elly enthusiastically obliges. He uses surgical tubes and clamps to tie Claire down for sex, and as he releases her after orgasm, we sense that for him the experience has been 'surgical' - almost a dispassionate experiment.

    If Beverly is Jeckyll and Elliot is Hyde, we are always conscious that both personalities inhabit one awareness. "You haven't had any experience until I've had it too," Elliot tells Beverly, and the twins certainly seem to share everything, treating each other's patients (without telling the patients, of course) and working in tandem on research papers. The twins have a twin obsession in common - work and sex. Beverly sums it up with, "We do women - that's our speciality."

    Identity is at the core of this film, and the dualities and ambiguities of personality recur with brain-teasing frequency. The twins are interested in female genitalia, both professionally and recreationally. Claire attracts them because of her dualities - she is a big personality who adopts other personas for her work: a strong woman who is turned on by being submissive: a gynaecological 'star' who happens to be infertile: and the French Canadian 'twin' to the English Canadian brothers. Elliot sleeps with two call-girls who are twin sisters, and identifies them by getting each to call him either 'Bev' or 'Elly'. The film has layer upon layer of these dualities. Genevieve Bujold is a French Canadian actress playing a French Canadian actress. We see her being made up for a movie, but when we see her left side, the make-up is of cuts and bruises. The Mantles prescribe drugs to each other, and each to himself, criss-crossing the doctor/patient demarcation lines. They take pills to cure their addiction to pills. Cary is having a relationship with Elliot, but when she gets both brothers at once, she is deeply aroused. The film, like the brothers, oscillates between oneness and separation. "I want to see you two together," says Claire, confused by their duality. So do we.
  • To date, Cronenberg's deepest film.

    Jeremy Irons summons a performance of profound complexity, to pull off a double-act so credible that your feelings are divided, twin egg-like, between two characters. The polar-opposite attraction/repulsion of each brother's personality shines through in his every scene - to flesh out two characters so distant yet so deeply intimate, and do it so convincingly, requires more than acting, and this is by far his finest moment.

    I can't say any more about this film other than that seeing it is a life-enhancing experience. Anyone who has ever taken potent substances with a close friend, as a kind of emotional rite, will be moved beyond words by the twins' climactic scene.

    Never mind the detractors who say it's cold and clinical and abusive - they just don't understand it. There is love, warmth and beauty in abundance in this film - a horror film? A psychological thriller? A love story? Don't try and give it a name and place, it's just an essential part of understanding us: as adults; as children; as weird, fathomless organisms.
  • Elliot and Beverly Mantle (Jeremy Irons) are identical twins that are top-of-the-class and incredibly well known gynaecologists. They also treat themselves by swapping their identities around, so they can share each other's work commitments and pleasures, like woman. But all of this comes back to destroy them emotionally and physically.

    An intriguing and rather inventive premise director / co-writer David Cronenberg has come up with here. The worlds Cronenberg creates in his film's are rather fascinating in looking at the human body and technology. This film is no exception. So you can't really call this mainstream, as it's not for everyone's tastes. That's why his films seem to have great impact in the realistic visuals and material context. It's flowing with originality, good psychological elements, erotica and it holds such an artistic feel with its stunning visuals and elegance to show.

    This thought-provoking drama is rather stimulating and quite downbeat. Though, it's mostly a talkative film; the dialogue is dense on many levels that it's truly captivating. It's more the material context that tries to shock and explore in a subtle way rather than the horrific visuals and shocks that we come to expect from most of Cronenberg's films. It doesn't contain much graphic moments, only about one or two. The sub-plots are drawn up quite well with dabbling in sexual desires and pleasure, technology (instruments and tools of the trade), the twins physical bond, addiction and a rather modernistic world. It's filled with sharp and intense sequences that are entrenched with an effective music score, as it overwhelmingly draws you in. This unsettling aurora builds into paranoia in the last half of the film and it ends rather disturbingly. The stylish production valves are incredibly glossy and professional. With beautifully crafted and slick cinematography. The gloomy colours that fill the screen hold great contrast in the moody and detail backdrop. From their fashionable home to their cold work office.

    Jeremy Iron gives a tremendously charismatic performance playing both Elliot and Beverly Mantle. Elliot is Beverly's backbone as he's confident and arrogant. Beverly is the opposite as he's more innocent and rather sweet. Beverly wants to break the bond that they share, but Elliot can't let that happen. At first they weren't that likable, but the further the film goes along we see their downfall and there spiral into madness. That's when you start to feel for them and it gets rather emotionally charged. They also live and depend on each other, feeling what the other one feels and that's mostly pain and gloom here. This happens when they start to depend on painkillers and Beverly believing his girlfriend is cheating on him. This portrait shows how fragile they really are and how we really depend and feel when love ones are in pain and sorrow. As we are effected in the same way too. Genevieve Bujold is splendid as Claire Niveau the movie star and Beverly's love interest.

    Maybe the film was a bit overlong, but this is a shockingly grim and efficient film that plays on many levels of the mind.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I must admit that I have a bit of a fascination with identical twins, and I don't think I'm alone on this. We often wonder to ourselves about how life must be for those that are, being able to con others by one twin being able to pose as the other or one twin taking the blame for the other's misdeeds.

    I first encountered a pair of identical twins when I was still in preschool and the concept has stuck with me ever since. So have the questions and the articulate pondering of how they can socialize in an environment as active as something, say, a public high school. How would they function? Normally, I would guess, but that's not enough for some, and director David Cronenberg also explores the concept of twins and has made a delicate and obsessive film that dives deep into its subject matter and doesn't relent in his hunt.

    Cronenberg is a director with an impeccable track record of nasty, gore-laden and brilliant horror and sci-fi movies that many times serve a greater purpose other than grossing out the audience. To paraphrase his IMDb biography, his works are often metaphors for larger social questions that are left up to the viewer to answer. Hence, this in no way makes his work easy to grasp or understand; it may take repeated viewings, but the pieces will eventually fall into place.

    Let's reflect: "Videodrome" (1983) explored the notion of reality-morphing television and technology and its fusion with human flesh - as witnessed by a man whose obsession with a strange television signal warps his perceptions of reality and he literally becomes a media assassin, as well as a human VCR with a vagina-like slit in his stomach to which a video cassette could be inserted; "The Fly" (1986) displayed the agonizing process of slow death and the effect it has on those involved - showcased by a woman having to watch her lover, a brilliant scientist whose DNA is mixed with that of a common housefly, waste away into something more terrifying; Cronenberg's third work of genius at this time, 1988's "Dead Ringers," dissected duality, that two separate minds can possibly equal one whole body or personality. Cronenberg explored each of these with graphic special effects and detailed and imaginative storytelling, both of which earned him the love and following of many fans and essayists.

    Here, in "Dead Ringers," Cronenberg explores this issue of duality, and the possibility that two individual personalities, twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle (Jeremy Irons, in a hefty and confusing performance), are actually halves of a whole. Elliot is the smooth ladies man - confident, bright, highly sexual. Beverly is the more secretive one - confused, lonely, desperate.

    Based on supposedly true events and a book called "Twins" by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, both men share each other's secrets, lives, patients, and sexual conquests of women. Sex comes up a lot in Cronenberg's film, and he uses it as a joke between the two twins: "You'd still be a virgin if it weren't for me," quips the extrovert Elliot to the introvert Beverly. Elliot and Beverly live together, but live as each other and can't live without each other; they would rather die than be separate.

    Things become complicated for them both when Beverly begins romancing a desperate actress named Claire Niveau (Genevieve Bujold), and for once he begins to come out of his shell when he finds that he's falling madly in love with her. She eventually discovers that Elliot and Beverly are twins. Beverly attempts to win her back when she calls it quits to their relationship and eventually does, but where does this leave Elliot, the smoother of the Mantle Brothers?

    It's not enough that Beverly is also hounded by a rather ghastly dream and he eventually begins down a tragic spiral of drug addiction, as does Elliot, who says that they share the same body and mind. The two brothers then begin attempts to "separate," which will have tragic consequences for both of them.

    Cronenberg has a knack for getting commanding performances from his players and "Dead Ringers" is no exception. Irons puts on a confusing and masterful performance as both Mantle twins, as the film really makes you believe you're watching two men (when it's actually one man interacting with himself). Cronenberg utilizes extraordinary split-screen technology, body doubles, and editing to make you think Irons has a twin that nobody's ever seen before. (P.S: One should also be on the lookout for a real-life pair of twins: a young, pre-"Law & Order" Jill Hennessy and her sister Jacqueline in brief cameo roles as two female escorts.)

    Hardcore Cronenberg fans will definitely find "Dead Ringers" rewarding, if not lacking. You know what I'm talking about: gore, oh, delicious, explicit carnage and gore. Well, if one is a gorehound, you'll be disappointed but a more observant hound will find their desserts in the psychological gore that makes up for much of what's normally missing in this picture. The graphic gynecological surgical instruments, one particular dream sequence, and the ending "surgery" will definitely make those thirsty for blood + guts crave for more.

    "Dead Ringers" shows David Cronenberg at his artistic best; I've waited a long time to see this movie and I myself was not disappointed in the slightest. If "The Fly" is considered his greatest film, then "Dead Ringers" shows him at his most mature as a director. This picture allowed Cronenberg to begin real work in mainstream cinema and also allowed for him to get the respect of other great directors (I've heard that Martin Scorsese has a lot of admiration for him).

    David Cronenberg's theatrical masterpiece - "Dead Ringers."

    8/10
  • A very fine film that challenges and rewards just about equally and somehow has a downbeat ending that manages to be uplifting. I suppose we have been through a lot by the end and although there is an horrific sadness there is an awful inevitability and we like the twin brothers can finally see no other way out. Bujold plays a starlet who comes between two identical twins (Irons in his two best screen performances!) and whilst the tale begins playfully enough we are given enough signals to suggest all will not be well, although we like all three leads do hope so. We see ourselves in the three and if at first we are confounded to discover we are confused by who is who, just when we have got the two under some control, like Bujold indeed, it all goes wrong and the brothers switch personalities before our very eyes. This is all disturbing enough without the gynaecological instruments of torture and the playing with pain and pleasure leading us to some darkened room.
  • Known as a director of "weird" films (unfortunadely unusual means bad for many), Cronenberg is actually a serious studious of the human mind, not unlike Ingmar Bergman, and here he does it better than in any other of his films i have seen (Spider, The Fly and Videodrome- the last one about the influence of TV in society and the least introspective of them). Like in the pictures mentioned above, the very strange premise is a excuse to a deep analysis of the human psychology: what is identity? where is the line between love and obsession? how dependent of another person someone can be? where does one ends and the other begins? It can be seen the influence of Bergman, most notably Persona and The Hour of the Wolf, and arguably Hitchcock's Vertigo, and, as the masters, Cronenberg does not provide easy answers, or any answer at all. But no matter how great the director is, the film would not be successful without the talent of Jeremy Irons. An actor capable of very good performances even in bad films, like The Man in the Iron Mask, he delivers here one of the greatest performances of all time, playing two extremely complex characters without being over-the-top or inexpressive in any moment, confusing us of which is Bev and which is Elly when he is supposed to, and making clear who is he playing in the right moment. Dead Ringers is not an ordinary film, so is not for ordinary moviegoers: it is very complex, not commercial at all, can be very hard to look at it in some moments, and don't expect to feel good after watching it. But if that does not drives you away, i strongly recommend.
  • After a very successful career exploring the physical horrors in a series of excellent films (that culminates in the awesome remake of "The Fly"), Canadian director David Cronenberg made another step up in the development of his personal style of film-making, by moving to the field of psychology with a suspense/thriller that while less visceral and graphic than his previous films, it's no less horrific and captivating: "Dead Ringers". While at first sight this film seems like a departure, it's simply the logic evolution of a style that reaches maturity without forgetting its origins. Just as "The Fly" can be seen as the grandiose closure of an era, "Dead Ringers" is the glorious beginning of a new stage.

    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
  • Coventry21 September 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    (Small spoilers throughout the entire review)

    David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers is a thriller that makes the blood chill, but in a completely different way than his previous 'The Fly'. Dead Ringers is an emotionally and psychologically devastating film focusing on the exclusiveness of twins and their (supposable) telepathic interaction skills. Master actor Jeremy Irons stars in a double-role as Beverley and Elliot Mantle. At age nine, they're intelligent kids (the part where they ask the bitchy neighbor girl to have experimental sex with the both of them is great) and they grow to be brilliant med school students. In a further life-stadium, they're brilliant gynecologists with an own clinic. Even though nobody can tell the difference between them physically, the two brothers have a very different personality. Elliot is the dominant, self-confident one while Beverley is the shy one who wouldn't even meet girls if it weren't for Elliot passing his ex-girlfriends to him. But then Beverley falls deeply in love with an actress who came to the clinic with gynecologic problems. After the painful mix-ups between the two brothers (Dead Ringers makes no problem out of exploiting the 'twin-brothers-share-the-same-girlfriends' topic) they form a steady couple, but when the actress hands over some of her showbiz's habits like drugs and kinky sex to Beverley, this seems to unleash mental madness that eventually has its impact on both brothers.

    Dead Ringers is slow, stone cold and driven by depression and despair. In his typical and brilliant style, David Cronenberg tells the story without any form of emotion or sympathy for the brothers. His directorial approach is detached and it sometimes feels like he's shooting an ordinary scientific documentary. That certainly isn't a bad comment, though. In an unexplainable way, the cold and objective viewpoint is what makes this film so terrifying. Along with the outstanding performance by Irons, that is. He really succeeds in making both of his characters go through a lethal downward spiral of insanity. Dead Ringers is one of those films almost impossible to judge. Half of the time what you see are brilliant and half of the time you're too confused by it, but, in general, it's far too compelling and you refuse to give up understanding what the characters go through. This is psychological terror in its purest form!
  • Cronenberg consistently makes technically well crafted films. His subject matter however and the way he displays his subject matter (ie – his love of gore and perverse creations), often divides opinion of his works.

    I think what makes DR a remarkably strong film is that Cronenberg tones down his use of trademark gore. There is a little, but it's used sparingly and non-gratuitously. This shows that Cronenberg can exercise self-control when he wants to.

    The overall look of the film is beautiful: Ultra modern and austere. The twins apartment looks like the perfect abode for socially detached souls.

    But the most extraordinary aspect of DR is Jeremy Iron's performance as both Mantle Twins. He shades each of the twin brothers amazingly and makes them both terrifying and sympathetic characters. Geneviève Bujold also delivers a faultless performance, looks fantastic as a more mature woman and proves the fact that women over 40 can be very sexy; a fact which Hollywood (very insultingly) continues to ignore.

    The film's subject matter is very unsettling and controversial. As a man, I found a lot of scenes difficult to watch. But to be fair, Cronenberg never pushes the film into the cheap and tasteless territories of gratuitousness and exploitation.

    Overall, DR is a very heavy experience. As one reviewer noted: ‘Do not watch if you are feeling depressed.' I agree totally with this point. But it is a film which is guaranteed to remain in the mind a long, long time afterwards. Ultimately, I like films which I can remember in detail years after I've seen them.

    7/10
  • The twin brothers Beverly and Elliot Mantle are close to each other since they were kids. They are bright students at the medical school were they undergraduate in gynecology. They work in their clinic Mantle Inc. where Beverly (Jeremy Irons) is shy and hard worker and Elliot is eloquent, cynical and daring. When the actress Claire Niveau (Genevieve Bujold) comes to their clinic for a fertilization treatment, Elliot seduces her and they have one night stand. Elliot offers Claire to Beverly and soon he falls in love with her. Claire is addicted in pills and Beverly becomes also addicted. When Claire accidentally discovers that Beverly has an identical twin brother, she finds the truth about her initial affair with Elliot and breaks up with Beverly. He becomes depressed and uses more pills reaching the rock bottom. Elliot decides to use pills to "synchronize" with his brother leading the Mantle's brothers to a tragic end.

    "Dead Ringers" is a strange and mesmerizing film by David Cronenberg. The story of identical twin brothers with different behaviors that are affected by a woman has outstanding performance of Jeremy Irons associated to a great edition work. The film is gruesome in many moments and the conclusion is predictable, with the destruction of both twins. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Gêmeos - Mórbida Semelhança" ("Twins – Morbid Ressemblance")
  • David Cronenberg has never made a bad movie, and I don't think he ever will, but Dead Ringers, despite some great ideas, did not impress me. Dead Ringers is convoluted and seemingly pointless. The premise starts off simple, but the screenplay makes it more complex than necessary.

    Dead Ringers focuses on twin brothers Bev and Elliot who are rich and renowned gynaecologists. Their success and popularity comes from working closely together, but things go south when they meet the young actress Claire Niveau which whom they each have an affair. The emotional aftermath, messes up not only their work, but their mindset and mental stability.

    The movie starts off quite well actually, It's interesting to see Jeremy Irons play two different characters in the same scenes. Good acting and pacing keeps Dead Ringers stable for the first hour but around the half way point, it starts to deteriorate, eventually collapsing under the weight of its complexity. The dialog gets weak, character development becomes unclear, And the ending is abrupt and silly.

    I suppose the fact that the movie is adapted from a novel explains some of the complexity. As I've noticed, good filmmakers usually try to be loyal to the novels or literary works they adapt from, when they do so. Adapted or not, I think Dead Ringers is occasionally thought provoking and clever but not an especially competent film.
  • David Cronenberg is a director of great unique vision, and he ranks highly on my list of favorites, not because every film he does is great per se, but because there is a certain level of consistency and quality that infects each bizarre celluloid mutation he comes up with. David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick have done a few good films, but their track records are generally inconsistent--Cronenberg, while grossly underrated, outshines them all. And "Dead Ringers"--probably his most widely-praised film in the mainstream, next to "The Fly"--is no exception. The film is quite puzzling on first inspection, and I did have a hard time settling into the mentality that would let me enjoy it, but once I did, I was thoroughly impressed--whether playing the smarmy Elliott or the sensitive Beverly Mantle, Jeremy Irons gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as identical twin gynecologists (the subtleties of difference in personality command multiple viewings to register). Not only is the film's central theme both compelling and disturbing (one personality split between two people), but the descent into (prescription) drug addiction and botched gynecological procedures (with Cronenberg's trademark insect-like surgical instruments) will make your skin crawl. It's a bleak, depressing, and tragic tale, but it shows brotherly relations with an intimacy few films ever approach. Anchored by Irons' spectacular dual performance, "Dead Ringers" is a film that shows a lot of maturity on Cronenberg's part, and though it might be hard to call it 'entertaining,' it does contain harsh imagery with an emotional pulse that will not be easily forgotten.

    7/10
  • fred3f2 May 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    There are things to like about this film. The double role that Jeremy Irons plays is a tour de force (French for display of strength or skill). The worldly wise yet kittenish performance of Geneviève Bujold is a high point of the film and the story generates a certain twisted interest in the viewer. The direction has its moments of excellence and the script is witty and surprisingly thoughtful. Despite all of this, however, I didn't like this movie.

    My tastes are fairly wide when it comes to films. I watch anything from foreign to silents to comedy to drama to documentaries and children's films. I am not put off by gore or sex, as long as it has a point, and I somethimes enjoy the off-beat and somewhat twisted. Yet I didn't like this film.

    Clearly, with the 7+ rating that this film currently has, many people liked the film. However, I can also see many people disliking it. If you liked it, please do not be offended by my review. I like a world that has people who think differently than I do, but I think that there are many people who will not like this film and I would like to warn them.

    So what is not to like? Perhap that despite its wit, the film predictable. A tale of an obsessive love that destroys the two people who are involved. Yes, it is novel and different and the twin bond is rare in film, but even this novelty could not prevent the film from becoming tedious as it plods that well worn and predictable track of obsession leading to senseless destruction.

    Perhaps another reason is that I and the people with me didn't felt depressed when the film was over. There was no joy; there was not redemption. There was no sense that they deserved their fate or that something was somehow gained by what happened. There was not even the feeling of release that comes with a tragedy. Perhaps I am too much of an optimist, but I don't like coming out of a movie feeling down or depressed. This is a bleak film.

    Perhaps another reason is that the ending seemed inconclusive and pointless. If I am going to feel depressed I would at least like a reason for it or some kind of point. The ending resolved their fate but walked away wondering why you needed to know this.

    You might say that life is sometimes bleak and tedious, that sometimes there is no hope. Well, that is true, but I get enough of that from life without having to pay for it in the theater.

    I felt mentally an spiritually raped by this film. Obviously there are many people who didn't feel the same way, or if they did, they didn't mind. If you don't like movies of this sort, then I hope you are warned. On the other hand, if you like this type of movie, then this is good and well acted example of the type, and I hope you enjoy it.
  • Jeremy irons in his best role i ever saw as 2 brothers that share women, till 1 of the brothers falls in love and refuse to share. this story guidelines only has a great potential for further story. Irons work here is so good, that after a short while you forget its 1 person that act as 2 characters in the movie. its so amazing to see the love of 2 brothers acted by 1 person. i even managed to tell the difference between the brothers even when they tried that no one will tell the difference. Dead Ringers is under mainstream disguise, but don't be wrong, its not mainstream, but its also not horror, or sci-fi. i would say undefined genre. just love that Cronenberg. a genius.

    Enjoy...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Beverly and Elliot Mantle are identical twins and have shared everything during their entire lives - their interest in the women reproductive system which leads them both to become famous gynecologists, their apartment (they both love Italian furniture), their successful practice in Toronto, and their patients. "We do women - this is our specialty" says Elliot, more confident and self-assured twin who seduces the women he meets and then passes them on to his shyer brother. Enters Claire, a new patient with an extremely rare condition and soon both brothers "are doing her" without her knowledge. But Claire feels that the person she is with is sometimes different even if he looks the same - she is an actress and to pretend to be someone else is her specialty. After she finds out that she sleeps with both brothers, the movie becomes a very interesting dissection of the most mysterious connection between two people possible and the intense look at playing with and losing identity. The movie is written and directed by the master of intelligent horror movies, David Cronenberg, and it is very clever, dark, unsettling, and uncomfortable (the main characters are gynecologists, remember?). As with many Cronenberg's films, "Dead Ringers" fits well into the "fatal error of a mad scientist" sub-genre: "Everybody's a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We're all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos" (David Cronenberg).

    Jeremy Irons in a dual role is mesmerizing, giving not just one but two his best performances, so powerful and convincing that I felt a lot of sympathy for the twins instead of disgust and loathing for what they were doing to their patients and to each other.
  • kenjha17 June 2006
    Irons is excellent in the dual role of twin gynecologists. Bujold is also good as an actress the twins get involved with. Cronenberg creates an appropriately grim atmosphere, aided by fine cinematography and score (by Shore). However, all of these positive qualities are negated by a bad script (by Cronenberg). After an interesting start, the film goes south and becomes increasingly tedious with scenes of drug use and emotional theatrics. Cronenberg's usual fascination with gore makes matters worse. The relationship between identical twins may be fascinating to psychologists but it makes for a dull movie when there is nothing else in the plot to keep the viewer's interest.
  • In the late 1980s, when David Cronenberg announced that he was adapting the novel TWINS by Bari Wood, I was sorta happy about this. I believed then that Cronenberg would make a fine adaptation of the disturbing novel. When I finally saw the film version, it was a letdown. Everything that made the novel shocking and memorable was all but gone in the film and what's left is a dreary drama that's not particularly memorable. I hardly remember anything from it and yet I remember big chunks of novel, even if I read the novel years before seeing the movie. Cronenberg made big changes to the story, certainly in regards to the relationship between the twin brothers. This was a big mistake on Cronenberg's part, who basically chickened out and made something more mainstream, very 1980s while showcasing his usual (by then) boring penchant for fetish. The brothers' descent into madness is not convincing at all in the film version because it's missing the important elements that made the basis of the novel. The end product is more anal retentive than it needed to be. A disappointment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's an astonishing tour de force, especially for Irons, whose sense of nuance is so refined that one can tell in a matter of seconds which twin he is playing. Identical twin gynaecologists (played by Jeremy Irons) happily share everything, until a beautiful woman (Genevieve Bujold) comes between them.

    Dead Ringers is a resolutely weird and disturbing psychological chiller which requires effort to sustain suspension of disbelief, though it's based on a true story. Irons' virtuoso double act is what lingers in the memory. Total Film placed Dead Ringers 35th on their list of the "50 Greatest Horror Movies Of All Time".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When it comes to the bizarre and creepy nobody does it quite like David Cronenberg. As I have mentioned before this Canadian director is one of my favorites. I have previously reviewed his other films "Rabid", "The Fly", and "Scanners." This latest entry is for his 1988 drama "Dead Ringers." This is the examination of the lives of identical twin gynecologists with a practice in Toronto, Canada.

    Elliot and Beverly Mantle (both male) operate a very successful practice and are models of professionalism. Jeremy Irons give an absolutely incredible performance in playing both brothers. A new computerized technique allowed the filmmakers to seamlessly show both bothers in the same shot. Hooray for late 80's computer technology! Elliot is the more confident and aggressive of the two. He is the public face of the twins and does all of their speeches and presentations. While Beverly is shyer and withdrawn, always busy with the research.

    The Mantle brothers, especially Elliot, are quite cold and clinical. They seem to operate as one person, with two distinct personalities. Can they ever establish their own identities even though they are identical? I'm sure this is a real world problem that twins deal with everyday. The brothers share an apartment, patients, and occasionally girlfriends. When Claire Niveau, an actress, visits their practice the brothers' psychological time bomb ignites. They fool Claire into thinking there is only one of them, but she can sense the difference in their personalities. Without knowing it she prefers Beverly over Elliot and this starts a sort of bizarre love triangle. Claire is addicted to prescription drugs and Beverly soon follows close behind. When she finally finds out that she has been duped she is obviously angered and upset, but eventually keeps seeing Beverly. After this the Mantle brother's relationship begins to spiral out of control and descends into a drug addled madness.

    Most all of Cronenberg's films involve some sort of medical abnormality or anomaly. Like "Shivers", "Rabid", "The Fly", and others, his earlier films were classified as horror and science fiction. Dead Ringers on the other hand is purely drama, but still keeps his trademark eerie creepiness.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Cronenberg is the most surprising and shocking film director I know but he always deals with situations that are out of the ordinary and he pushes them to their extreme end or even beyond. In this film he explores the relation between two real twins who have perfectly identical routes in life to the point of becoming schizophrenic and wanting to get rid of the second half of their individual personality, which is the personality of the other. They become obsessed with separating the Siamese twins they are in a way and yet are not. This derangement develops all by itself and they discover that they cannot survive separately and as soon as one does something that the other does not do both of them are disturbed to the point of having to become morbid, death-obsessed, death-seeking, death-hungry and death-thirsty. Death becomes what they physiologically need, each one of them, and both of them, to survive by compensating the difference that has appeared in their relation. All that sounds crazy and is in fact just extremely natural, natural to the extreme. The death instinct, the other side of the libido, takes over when the slightest difference appears between them and is interpreted, unconsciously, subconsciously and even consciously, as a treason of their libido, or libidos, of their libidinous survival instinct. Their survival instinct calls their death instinct up to regulate the disruption and what has to happen happens: one kills the agreeing other and that one let himself die on the body of the one he has killed, the one who has died first. The supreme irony of that film is that these two identical twins are gynecologists by profession and they are giving birth to babies day after day, till they finally and mutually abort their own lives. Amazing. And what's worst in this picture is that it is realistically possible. Cronenberg here reveals the deep fear we feel in front of identical twins, a real vertigo, in Hitchcock's meaning of the word.

    Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
  • Dead Ringers wasn't necessarily a very pleasant film experience, but it's one that did shake me to the core as I watched it, in a way that is slightly comparable to The Fly. As an auteur, which could likely be applied to David Cronenberg, he keeps pressing on with many themes that he's been working through in the bulk of his career- and if not outright themes, general ideas that can draw out the darkest and saddest drama there is in the minds of men. Duality, to be sure, and also the complications that arise through forms of fetishism, or rather a kind of strange obsession with things involving the body, touching, feeling, close to one another in ways that are truly grotesque (in this case there is the quintessential nightmare scene where Bev sees Claire split apart himself from Eliot, his twin, by taking a bite out of the deformed connection with a vein in her mouth), and sometimes having to do with outright criminals (History of Violence and Spider come to mind as those who are just right on the brink all the time). But there's more, probably some things I didn't quite catch on, though I wouldn't put all of it on Cronenberg for making it such a beautiful work where objective perception through the camera- a bit like a documentary in a clinical sense, as many have noted- goes on with the subjectivity that is blurred through the twins.

    And in typical Cronenberg fashion, there's something of an exploitation catch to start with, that soon dissipates upon a deepening of the characters. In what is one of the very bravest acting challenges, Jeremy Irons plays twin Canadian gynecologists, Bev and Eliot Mantle (Mantle = Mental? obvious perhaps but not too much so). They have some unorthodox methods, though not necessarily related to how they treat patients in the office. It's almost been a game for years, we find out, how they go between having women without them noticing. But actress Claire (the very talented, and maybe not quite on screen enough, Geneviève Bujold) can soon tell the difference after meeting one to see if she can have children, which she can't due to three uterus's, and then getting screwed over (literally) by another. But there is love between her and Bev, who is soon revealed as the more vulnerable and dependent of the two while Eliot is more confident, the ladies man, the one winning awards and getting teaching positions. It soon becomes apart of a breakdown process for Bev as she leaves him to go get work elsewhere, and soon its a spiral into drugs and delirium, including some unorthodox procedures with a 'gold' clamp.

    The ingredients here could make for some truly wacky cinema, but under the hands of Cronenberg it's done to such a realistic extent that you can't escape the humility of the situations. These brothers, as well as brother-to-lover, are linked in a manner that defies general descriptions. And it's not necessarily in a very fetishistic construct, though it pops up once and again (my favorite was seeing the first sex scene between Claire and Bev- or is it Eliot, maybe it is- when he has her tied up to the bed with hospital equipment, as it's dangerous as anything Cronenberg has done with sex on film but touching in its long takes). But as in Spider, Cronenberg wouldn't have it get done correctly without the proper lead, and in Irons he finds someone who has such a wide range in pure theatricality: formal grace, apprehension, embarrassment, cruelty, reckless behavior whilst on drugs, delirium, moments of quiet tension, pain, fear, anger, it's all there up for grabs. Even when some scenes near becoming a little flat almost by Cronenberg's wavering detachment Irons brings it back to something that is profound. This is something unexpected, given that some scenes have to rely on levels of dark depravity (the first 'test' of the new instruments during surgery) and dark comedy even (the question inferred about sex with a dog to a woman is priceless).

    It might come close to being, oddly enough, a definitive work from the director, even if it isn't perhaps his absolute best film. Yes, it's tone is cold and without the levels of sentimentality that could come had it been someone who went for a lower common denominator. Yet it has what most of his fans come to expect- twisted psychological drama, intense and quick shocks, and high-caliber performances to match the technical aspects achieved. It's not an easy film to love, but damn if one can't look away and not get it out of their heads once it's over.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers...

    In 1974, a young film-maker who before going into cinema studied medicine saw his career taking off with an original horror movie: "Parasite Murders". It was David Cronenberg. Throughout the years, by making more accessible movies, he has conquered a wider public than the horror movies lovers. After two big critical and public successes, "the Dead Zone" (1983) and "the Fly" (1986), the Canadian film-maker persevered in the mainstream with "Dead Ringers" (1988). As far as I'm concerned, I liked it very much. The movie is partly based on a novel but Cronenberg doesn't keep very much from it (except the death of the two twins very alike to the one that happens at the end of the film) and prefers to let his imagination work from this novel.

    It wouldn't be very fair to consider "Dead Ringers" as a fantastic movie and even less as a horror movie. Certain aspects which have made Cronenberg's reputation are largely absent. For example, there are few bloody sequences, no monsters or mutants either. A psychological drama would be closer to the truth. The Canadian film-maker favors here a psychological horror focusing on Beverly Mantle's slow and unstoppable mental disintegration. Loving madly Claire Niveau (a remarkable Genevieve Bujold) is dangerous for him. Gradually, he grows away from his professional and familiar universe and he is destroyed by a nearly deadly madness (he will nearly kill a patient). In the long run, drug and alcohol will get the better of him. More serious, his brother Elliott can't live without him (both form a one person) and has no other solution than to follow him in decline. Very simply, the dramatic progression of the story looks like an efficient escalation in unhealthy and morbid.

    But Cronenberg has also found room in his screenplay to develop some of his favorite themes which were already present in his previous movies: the degradation of the human body and everything harmful that can happen to it from a physical level and a mental level as well. Another subject is the following one: to which limit a doctor can exercise his power over his patient? The beginning of the film shows us the Mantle brothers when they were kids. In spite of their young age, they were already full of ambition. Later, as students they invented medicine tools which resemble more to instruments of torture from Middle-Ages. A woman will complain that one of these medicine tools makes her suffer whereas Beverly Mantle assures her that it can't hurt her. So, in a way the Mantle brothers challenge the laws of medicine and almost behave like technocrats .

    Hats off to Jeremy Irons who manages very well from a difficult double role. He could attribute to each of the two twins, a real identity between the shy Beverly and the confident Elliott. Thanks to him, certain sequences have a strong emotional power (the last shot showing the two dead twins). A last asset: of course, the flawless quality of the special effects. "Dead Ringers" is a movie that uses special effects just like a movie should use them: admirable without never giving the impression of being intrusive. In a way, these two qualities will also agree with Harold Ramis in "Multiplicity" (1996) even if it comes within the province of comedy.

    Yes, separation can be a terrifying thing but it can sometimes contributing to the success of a film as "Dead Ringers" testifies.
  • ALauff11 August 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    Cronenberg's psychosexual parable about twin gynecologists—both played by Jeremy Irons—and the personality they share is stunning in its ability to evoke in dialogue and image an almost Manichean sense of duality between two people (the bespectacled Beverly is the ethical, workmanlike one; suave Elliott is the glory hound) who feel, think, and act as one, while offering up a rather cautionary allegory about codependency. If Videodrome was a techno freak-out delineating the loss of corporeal identity in a digital age, then Dead Ringers is his Aquinas-like auto-rebuttal, wherein sensory pleasures (this being a Cronenberg film, ideas of sexual pleasure and pain subjectively intermix) and a desire for connection can result in crippling dependencies in a sterile, dehumanized world.

    One of Cronenberg's more admirable qualities is how he manipulates clichés—his protagonists (scientists, television producers, schizophrenics) often "play god," not to reverse or correct nature, but often to redress a deformity they see in their circumscribed, self-obsessed universes—to serve his deceptively humanist leanings. In most cases, I don't think of his characters as mere launching pads for his various preoccupations—though I think Videodrome is guilty of objectifying somewhat—but as co-creators (or -conspirators) who know as much as Cronenberg. In this way, they attain a curiously high level of autonomy: they become real people, no matter how outré, rather than tracings of light on a screen filling out the conventional steps of a screenplay. They discover and learn as though in real time. Bev and Ellie's separation anxiety, and its tragic consequences, is an ideal illustration of Cronenberg's compassion for thinking people—or, perhaps more accurately, people whose one-sided intellectualism makes them unable to register matters of the heart.
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