Dead Ringers review: Rachel Weisz is simply superb in this timely reboot
Weisz's performance is just one of many reasons you'll be unable to tear your eyes away from this psychological thriller.
Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for Dead Ringers.
Sure, there's been a heavy raft of adaptations hitting the screens lately – some good, some definitely not as good as others. But the brand new Prime Video iteration of Dead Ringers is a gloriously captivating watch indeed.
Helmed as a "modern take" of the classic 1988 David Cronenberg film of the same name, this new series bears a resemblance to the unshakeable eerie feeling of the film but notches it up tenfold with pressing, topical issues. Coming from screenwriter Alice Birch (Normal People, The Wonder), we follow twins Elliot and Beverly, both played by Rachel Weisz in equally superb form.
The portrayal of charismatic, sexually confident and witty Elliot and then the more demure, caring and devoted Beverly is carried through from the film in this six-part series, which seems more like a refreshing expansion on the tale rather than an entire reimagining.
Weisz is hypnotic as both, the only main physical difference between the pair being their on-call trainers and how they wear their hair, a charming difference that the twins often take great joy in enacting if they wish to swap out of any awkward workplace scenarios.
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It's hard to think there's just one person on the screen when seeing the way that Weisz embodies these tonally polar opposite characters, but it's a testament to her skill and Elliot and Beverly's endearing characterisation by Birch, who doesn't map out the pair as being good versus evil, or one bad and the other good. Instead, we watch on never really knowing the depth of the Mantle twins and come to realise that these thoughtfully carved out characters cannot be placed in such a box.
Ultimately, underpinning the series is the fact that these twins are striving to revolutionise the way people give birth and they share this unflinching desire to push ethical and medical boundaries in order to do so. They scoff at outdated ideas and are unapologetic geniuses, but they also share this alarming connection that presents further hassle the more we dive into the series.
The gender-flipping of the Mantle twins also means, most importantly, that the issues they're looking to solve in their professions as leading obstetricians are also relevant to their own lives. Everything seems so much closer and personal when Beverly's own desires to be a mother mean that the already-blurred boundaries between personal and professional grow a lot more hazier.
It's a clever way to make the audience even more endeared to these characters and regardless of who watches the series, there are moments and technologies that real-life obstetrics could only hope for in the future. That close proximity to the modern-day world that we live in is the main difference in this series and we go from a bustling, overworked Manhattan hospital to a sleek birthing centre named after the Mantle twins.
But still, those issues that are spoken about in today's world prevail – Black maternal mortality rates, distrust of the American healthcare system, surrogacy, being seen as "woke" and financial barriers to healthcare, to name a few. This series welcomes in the timeline it's framed around rather than ignoring it, and also presents a (somewhat) healthy onscreen queer relationship between actress Genevieve (Britne Oldford) and Beverly.
Their romance presents a bump in the road for the twins' long-standing plan to artificially inseminate Beverly, putting the wheels into motion for the sisters to finally face the fact that their lives may not always revolve around one another. How do you reckon with the loss of a person when they're still alive and well, just not as attached to you anymore? It's a question that permeates the series as this underlying battle between Elliot and Genevieve unfolds for Beverly's attention.
One of the main ways the clever writing of the series also manages to encapsulate the more satirical side of things is through Jennifer Ehle's character, Rebecca. Of course, with any major business venture, you need money and Dead Ringers goes to lengths to frame the birthing centre's funding in the kind of hyperrealistic way that will only make you laugh.
Rebecca is the kind of billionaire who doesn't initially care about creating birthing centres or opening up the industry for more accessibility. She is pretty much the worst kind of person there could be and her kombucha-swigging dinner party, Coldplay-singing children and unapologetic disdain for typically good acts only cements her as the cleverly written archetype for Big Pharma.
While the series is undoubtedly about this invisible electric forcefield that surrounds the Mantle twins and the fact that Genevieve threatens that, the series is also a brilliant look at modern-day medicine, family, grief and dependancy.
Sure, it's creepy and confronting in the way you'd expect anything that's based off of the original Dead Ringers film to be. But on top of the gripping psychological nature of the drama, the palpable tension and the laughs, Weisz is also almost too watchable as the charming, hilarious, shocking and unguessable Mantle twins.
Dead Ringers is coming to Prime Video on Friday 21st April. Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime Video and pay £8.99 a month after that.