The Mantle Sisters: a Compelling Tale of Psychological Struggles and Female Empowerment

The Mantle Sisters: a Compelling Tale of Psychological Struggles and Female Empowerment

Dead Ringers


Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Year Released: 2023 -
Runtime: 6 x 60m episodes
Showrunner(s): Alice Birch
Director(s): Sean Durkin, Karena Evans, Lauren Wolkstein, Karyn Kusama
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Britne Oldford, Poppy Liu, Michael Chernus, Jennifer Ehle, Emily Meade
Where To Watch: streaming on Prime Video April 21, 2023

RAVING REVIEW: As any of you who read my reviews regularly know, I don’t dive into spoilers. However, tackling this without the most base-level spoiler possible would be nearly impossible. If you’ve read the synopsis, cast listing, looked at a trailer, poster, etc., this likely won’t be a spoiler but be warned.

In this modern reinterpretation of David Cronenberg's 1988 cult hit, DEAD RINGERS, Rachel Weisz embodies the Mantle sisters to perfection, Elliot and Beverly. (that’s it, that was the “spoiler”) These siblings, united by love, addiction, and their mission to revolutionize women's healthcare, are supported by an ensemble cast nearly as crucial to the story as they are. The performances in this series thrive off one another to help build the tension within.

Weisz's depiction of the Mantle sisters is intoxicating, keeping viewers engaged throughout the six-episode series. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such repulsiveness from characters as I did while feeling sympathetic in some weird way. The show explores the nuances and red flags of the twins' codependent relationship, especially when Beverly falls deeper into what limits she can push. The essence of these characters builds throughout the series, with each episode uncovering more and more. Once you reach the second half, all bets are off, and the “explosion” of chaos consumes everything in its path.

The original film was a more sterile experience; this series attempts to blend that with a more personal experience. Sean Durkin helmed the first two episodes and collaborated with Karyn Kusama, Karena Evans, and Lauren Wolkstein on directing the gripping finale, each contributing their distinct style to the project. That created a united feel, allowing each episode to take on a slightly different aura.

The series tackles critical concerns like maternal care, with particular attention to the situation in the United States. DEAD RINGERS spotlight the perils of the twins' intertwined lives rather than examining the ethical gray areas surrounding patient treatment. Their profound co-dependency generates an unsettling atmosphere that propels the story forward.

The series pays homage to Cronenberg's original creation while infusing contemporary themes such as bodily autonomy (which couldn’t be a more fitting subtext with the world around us.) A continuous sense of unease permeates the show; the show focuses heavily on both visual and auditory elements to create this constant feeling of dread.

Alice Birch, the creator, executive producer, showrunner, and writer, accentuates the significance of embracing the story's dark, humorous, twisted, campy, sensual, and provocative elements. The show's tone, narrative, style, and character development evolve with an all-female writing staff, offering a distinctive viewing experience. Birch also emphasizes the representation of female pleasure on screen as the characters unabashedly pursue their desires. As the series progresses, horror and pleasure intensify, culminating in an electrifying, euphoric, and primal atmosphere.

At its core, DEAD RINGERS tells a story of a powerful yet unsustainable love between sisters. It examines this deeper than being siblings, but what it means to be two people with one soul. This adaptation will evoke various emotional responses and is a must-see for fans of the original film and those new to the story.

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[photo courtesy of PRIME VIDEO]

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