Dead Ringers

Viewed – 24 August 2012  Blu-ray

French import release

When it comes to the movies of Canadian director David Cronenberg, his brand of creepy, psycho-sexual horror is certainly an acquired taste, and although branching into the more mainstream of late with movies like A History Of Violence and A Dangerous Method … it was this 1988 drama that really made me a fan.

Brit actor Jeremy Irons stars as twin Gynaecologists Elliot & Beverly Mantle.  Famed throughout the industry, their intensely close relationship is put to the test when they both fall for actress Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold).  This powerful drama showcases Cronenberg’s fascination with psychology and sexuality and is possibly his most accomplished movie.  Irons’ performance as the two doctors is nothing short of amazing, managing to make both characters very different, and he plays against himself remarkably well.  Cronenberg’s direction is also quite something, managing to disguise the fact he only has one actor playing both roles.  This is aided by brilliant cinematography and eye-catching set design that maintains a cold, unsettling aesthetic.  Bujold is naturally sidelined compared to Irons, and her performance although acceptable is a bit unlikable and annoying.  Yet this is a very powerful and at times, very sad story that handles the subject of mental illness, sibling rivalry and jealousy with intelligence.

Dead Ringers has stood the test of time well, and although some of the effects work and camera trickery is showing its age, and the performances can border on caricature – this remains a thoroughly absorbing and disturbing piece of work.

This recently released French Blu-ray by Filmedia is for the time being, the only version of the movie available in high-definition.  That being said I can confidently recommend this release as the picture quality is immediately impressive for a movie over twenty years old, with clarity, depth and detail obvious throughout.  Colours are very vibrant (especially in the iconic red scrubs operation scenes) and considering this is all in 1080i rather than the industry preferred 1080p, I was still very happy with the presentation.  Sound is delivered in either English 2.0 DTS Master Audio of French 2.0 which  is more than acceptable for this kind of feature.  The movie also has French subtitles that will appear even if you select the English soundtrack, but these can easily be switched off via your remote.  Extras consist of a lengthy documentary exploring David Cronenberg’s movies, with interviews with previous cast members, and there are also featurettes on the effects work as well as a trailer.


(the movie):  5 /5

(the Blu-ray):  4 /5

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