DEAD RINGERS, David Cronenberg 1988


Every six months or so, there’s a season of Cronenberg films at home, we could be said die hard fans although it’s true we have our preferences.

As I explain whenever I talk about Cronenberg, sometimes it’s hard to understand his stories at the first time, thus I strongly recommend to watch each film a least twice, not immediately one after the other but taking some time between each session, then I think you can really enjoy them and understand details and shades of meaning.

Dead Ringers is one of my personal favorite, I find the story of the twin brothers amazing, and the decadent rhythm used for the development of the story is simply perfect.

Elliot and Beverly (Jeremy Irons) are identical twin brothers whose interest for female inner body is beyond pure sex since their early childhood. In fact, so focused they devote themselves to research and investigation of female reproductive system, inventing a device with which still at college, they are awarded.

Thus the Mantle twins become established gynecologists, combining research and practice.

Elly and Bev are physically identical, actually Elly is few millimeters taller, however the difference in personalities and atittudes is huge. Elly is the public relations, the spokesman in events, he’s very outgoing and has a taste for women. Bev is just the opposite, he’s a nerd, the brain of the two brothers, he’s shy and quiet, and tastes the remaining of his brother’s sexual conquests. They complement each other perfectly, and are very close.

Nevertheless the suddenly interference of the actress Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold) changes everything.The actress, who is currently working in Vancouver, asks for an appointment at Mantle’s in order to get pregnant with their modern and innovative techniques. When examining her, Bev discovers she’s trifurcate, a very weird mutation, and quickly informs his brother about the case.



At this point a bizarre game starts, for Elly, pretending to be Bev, takes Claire for dinner and seduces her, forcing his brother to keep on playing. However Bev falls in love with the actress.

Trouble will follow, as she’ll ask for drug prescriptions and Bev, the weakest, will develop a serious and self-destructive drug habit as his relationship with Claire becomes more serious, and his relationship with his brother almost reduced to non-existent.

When the actress has to leave Vancouver for work, Bev will cling to his brother seeking for help and relief against loneliness, strengthening bonds to an unhealthy point with bizarre consequences.

I’ve always found relationship among twins very appealing and interesting. It is fascinating how close they are to each other, and despite the few physical and unnoticeable differences the way their personalities complement so much is a mystery to me.

Many studies have been unable to determine telepathic like senses, and among many, Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, was obsessed about twins.

I really like the way Cronenberg, taking the story from the novel Twins, tells the story about the Mantle’s, and just with one actor covering the role of the brothers, something we had seen before, of course, but carefully not to seem that obvious nor shitty as in The Parent Trap, with Hayley Mills.

 The brotherly relationship is very dark and sinister, featuring sex, obsession, drugs, gynecology, and bizarre medical devices. They are meant to share everything, from passion for work to women, and this is the cause for their lives falling apart, they are not able to have their private experiences or relationships without excluding the other.

They relate themselves to the very first Siamese twins, Eng and Chang Baker, and their tragic end, one from a brain clot and the other just from fear three hours later.

I’m particularly impressed by the treatment of the drug addiction suffered by Bev. Initially is Claire the one taking drugs, in fact Elly is the one prescribing her the uppers and downers, however, Bev, in a moment of disappointment, starts taking them, and get hooked up on them. It is funny how easy is to get hooked on something, it’s not necessary to be illegal to be fucked up, and they’re not necessarily bad for human health as cocaine or heroine. Prescribed drugs, whose main function is to improve or ease the pain, are really dangerous, not easy affordable for common people, apparently. But if you really think about it, it’s not so uncommon you to be prescribed something in case of signs of anxiety or insomnia, in my case, one I was in distress I was given something that contained diazepam. Here in Spain at the minimum sign of depression you’re prescribed Tranquimazin, and seems that many people are hooked up on that shit. Regarding doctors, those nice people in charge of our health, the history of drug abuse is extensive but hidden to public society, they’re human, and although medicines are under surveillance some cannot resist the temptation. And this happens to weak Bev, he cannot accomplish working routines without drugs, however, at a certain point he freaks out when he attempts to put his bizarre surgical stainless steel devices into practice.

deadringers tools

Cronenberg again succeeds in recreating a tough story, adding his personal touch, creating a suffocating atmosphere, and focusing on dependence in its full meaning. Nedless to say, Irons is also outstanding, a bit exploited by the director, playing the two principal roles, should had been challenging.

What a tandem!

What a tandem!

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