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Jeremy Irons gives a pair of remarkable performances as twin gynecologists whose symbiotic bond leads them towards mutual self-destruction, in one of Cronenberg's most sophisticated fusions of the physical and the cerebral.
Following his two-film Hollywood sojourn, Cronenberg returned to more idiosyncratic material with this adaptation of Bari Wood's novel Twins, which was loosely based on the real-life story of twin doctors Stewart and Cyril Marcus, who were found dead in their Manhattan apartment from a barbiturate overdose. Jeremy Irons gives an indelible, critically lauded performance as identical twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle, who share more than just genes: the assertive, confident Elliot regularly seduces his female patients, and when he tires of them passes them on (without informing them of the switch) to the shy and introverted Beverly. When the brothers become involved with troubled actress Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold), their symbiotic relationship begins to unravel, with bizarre and eventually fatal results. One of Cronenberg's most subtle and sophisticated fusions of the cerebral and the physical — the brothers' complex psychological bond is intimately bound up with their clinical, increasingly disturbing fascination with the female reproductive system — Dead Ringers is also one of his most tragic and emotional works, thanks greatly to Irons' remarkable double performance.