"Dead Ringers" directed by David Cronenberg. Plot summary and psychonanalysis.

Essay by hoba November 2003

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"Dead Ringers" is a layered film that can be read from a psychoanalytical perspective. "Dead Ringers" centres around identical male twins named Elliot and Beverly, of whom are set up as contrasting personalities. This essay is looking at them through the Sedgwick triangle, the boundaries between self and other.

Elliot is the outgoing twin, the one who lectures, accepts awards and also gets all the women, of whom he then passes on to Beverly unbeknownst to the women. This can be analyzed through the Sedgwick Homoerotic Triangle. Eve Sedgwick argues that homoerotic desire is mediated through a woman. In this case the homoerotic desire between Elliot and Beverly is mediated through the woman they share, but it is even more sordid because it threatens the incest taboo.

The Triangle is especially evident when Claire an actress enters the film. Claire works as an actress and is addicted to sleeping pills and amphetamines.

Beverly and Elliot both share Claire without her knowledge. Beverly falls in love with Claire, of whom leaves once she has discovered that Beverly and Elliot have been deceiving her. Once Clair leaves, Beverly is devastated and begins to take the sleeping pills and amphetamines that Claire has left behind. Elliot tries to cure Beverly of his addiction, but then realises that they are interlinked and begins to take drugs himself. Claire returns a while later and Beverly goes back to her. Elliot is devastated as he is left displaced. Beverly then tries to gain his own identity separate from his twin brother Elliot. Beverly uses the instruments designed to operate on "mutant woman" to separate what he classifies as 'siamese twins'. Beverly then uses this gynecological instrument to operate on his conscious but drugged twin Elliot, and disembowels him. Beverly leaves the apartment...