David Cronenberg’s 1988 movie Dead Ringers, like the book on which it was based, was all about birth, death, love and power — but mostly from the male point of view. Jeremy Irons played twin gynecologists: an impulsive and sometimes predatory doctor named Elliot, and a more reserved doctor named Beverly.
Elliot enjoyed using his position of authority to seduce some of his infertility patients, and even some of Beverly’s, by pretending to be his twin brother. This new six-episode Prime Video adaptation of Dead Ringers preserves all of that. But showrunner Alice Birch, who created this TV version, changes it, too, by giving its female characters all the power.
Birch’s credits include Normal People, Lady Macbeth and Season 2 of Succession. Here she’s assembled a writer’s room populated entirely by women. The result is like a polar opposite of A Handmaid’s Tale. Women are in positions of power, both as doctors and as wealthy medical donors, and aggressively pursue both their ambitions and their passions.
For this new Dead Ringers, the Mantle twins, Beverly and Elliot, are played by Rachel Weisz, who was so brilliant opposite Olivia Colman in the period movie The Favourite. She’s brilliant here, too, opposite herself. Her Beverly wears her hair in a tight bun, while Elliot wears her hair down and flowing — but viewers can also tell the twins apart by everything from posture to vocal tone.