RUNNING TIME: 116 MINUTES. RATED R FOR NUDITY, STRONG LANGUAGE, ADULT THEMES.
Arguably the most disturbing film in Cronenberg’s body of work (as well as one of the least explicit), this story of twin gynecologists (played by Jeremy Irons) playing a dangerous game with one of their patients (Genevieve Bujold) marked a transition for the director in terms of subject matter and style.
Shot by cinematographer Peter Suschitzky in an unnervingly cool, remote palette (aside from some blood-red surgical suits) “Dead Ringers” qualifies more as a psychological study than a horror film, although horror is what you’re left feeling as the brothers descend into drug addiction, their carefully manicured lives fraying into chaos.
“There is a scene in Dead Ringers where [Jeremy Irons’ character] says he doesn’t understand why there aren’t beauty contests for the insides of our bodies,” Cronenberg told The Miami Herald in 1997. “We really haven’t come to terms with what our bodies are. Why is there no aesthetic for the inside of a body, that it’s all repulsive to us and yet it’s us? That’s a strange thing.
“What I’m looking for when I’m making a film is a very deep pool that I can dive into,” Cronenberg said. “It is the plasma pool: I’m trying to get very deep into human experience and meaning. If you can do that, then you’re beyond politics and fashion of the time and advances in technology.
“That’s what art is: You might be painting with paints that might be made obsolete by some other technology later, but your paintings can still have power and meaning, if you’re really an artist and not just a decorative craftsman.”