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Dead Ringers

1988 Mystery & Suspense

Two twin brothers, both renowned gynecologists, descend into madness after becoming romantically involved with the same woman in this disturbing, horrific drama. Jeremy Irons delivers a bravura performance as both Beverly and Elliot Mantle, Toronto-based surgeons who operate an exclusive gynecological clinic and share a reputation as brilliant innovators. They also share lovers, as the more aggressive, confident Elliott seduces women and later secretly allows the shier, more intellectual Beverly to reap the benefits. This arrangement is disturbed when Beverly falls in love with their newest conquest, Claire Niveau (Genevieve Bujold), a famous actress with an unusual gynecological deformity. Beverly's relationship with the hard-living Claire leads to him to turn away from Elliot and begin a dangerous involvement with drugs and alcohol. Elliot senses his brother's rapid decline into addiction and paranoia and attempts to save him, only to start falling victim to the same urges. Director David Cronenberg adapted the loosely fact-based tale to his own creepy purposes, tapping into primal fears regarding the uncanniness of twins and male sexual panic. His notorious gore was used sparingly here, however, with the film's most disturbing moments coming through suggestion, as in the display of a group of terrifying surgical instruments created by Beverly in his madness. Cronenberg's expertise with special effects proves crucial, however, as he and his regular cinematographer Peter Suschitzsky seamlessly combine Irons' two performances in a manner unrivalled by any previous depiction of twins. This visual achievement is more than matched by Irons, who delivers what may be his career performance, delineating the twins' differences and similarities and embodying their collapse in frighteningly believable fashion. The subject matter and chilly tone may be too intense for some viewers, but the brilliant central performance and intellectually provocative approach will prove thoroughly absorbing for others. more..

Director: David Cronenberg

Starring: Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi Von Palleske, Barbara Gordon

Reviews

  • To think of a film this assured, this unified and this dizzyingly potent, you have to go back to "Blue Velvet."

    Sheila Benson - Los Angeles Times

    19 January 2013

  • An instant classic, an Oscar-worthy showcase for Jeremy Irons, and a tightrope ballet over dicey screen material... A subtle movie - and thus a disturbing one. Like "Vertigo," "The Night of the Hunter," "Repulsion" and a few others, it finds beauty in morbidity - then nags you to come back for a second dose.

    Mike Clark - USA Today

    19 January 2013

  • For those who enjoy cinematic visits to other, darker worlds, this blood's for you. Watching Ringers is not unlike watching a critical operation -- unnerving but also enthralling.

    Desson Thomson - The Washington Post

    19 January 2013

  • A masterpiece.

    - Entertainment Weekly

    19 January 2013

  • What makes the performance(s) even better is that Mr. Irons invests these bizarre, potentially freakish characters with so much intelligence and so much real feeling.

    Elvis Mitchell - The New York Times

    19 January 2013

Awards

  • Best Actor

    Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films (1990)

     
  • David Cronenberg

    Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival (1989)

  • Best Actor

    Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (1989)

  • Best Actor

    Fantasporto (1989)

  • Best Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design

    Genie Awards (1989)