We review for you… Faux-Semblants (Tote Ringer), transgressive and gory

We review for you… Faux-Semblants (Tote Ringer), transgressive and gory

With different themes and a double dose of Rachel Weisz, Faux-semblants reimagines David Cronenberg’s 1980s film of the same name.

What is false pretense? Elliot and Beverly Mantle (Rachel Weisz), identical twins and therefore completely identical, are both board-certified gynecologists and obstetricians. They share excesses, lovers, drugs… but also the same project: with the financial support of a wealthy investor (Jennifer Elhe), they aspire to found their own private clinic with the aim of revolutionizing the healthcare system. . More specifically, her goal is to redefine the fields of fertility, reproduction and childbirth to help women, even if it means pushing the boundaries of medical ethics. However, their personal and professional relationship, symbiotic and fused, is disrupted when Beverly begins a relationship with Geneviève (Britne Oldford), a famous actress whom she met during a consultation at the hospital…

Series presented at Canneseries 2023

It was originally a message that inspired Bari Wood and Jack Geasland to write the book Twins in which they romanticize the story of twins Steward and Cyril Marcus; David Cronenberg directed the film Dead Ringers (Faux Semblants) in 1988. And today it’s Alice Birch (playwright and author of normal people), which is taking over the story to deliver another version, a six-episode miniseries available on Amazon Prime Video. It’s more of a reinvention or reinterpretation than an adaptation. In reality, in the book and film, we follow two twin gynecologists (played by Jeremy Irons in the cinema) fertility specialists going insane; In the series, they are twins. The decision to stage women allows for this False Claims deal with other topics from a female perspective.

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As with Cronenberg, the relationship between the two main characters drives the story, and it’s particularly perverse and toxic. The two women do not hesitate to share or even exchange operating rooms, patients, medicines and lovers, but they are also very different: Beverly is shy, gentle and motherly; Elliot is immature, impulsive, and violent. It only takes a few minutes for us to capture Beverly’s personality and Elliot’s or their motivations (for Beverly the center is a vehicle to help women, while for Elliot it’s an opportunity to have a lab of his own).

The six episodes play a lot with the concept of duality, both in the plot and in the ethical concepts or the staging, but above all in the characters. On purpose (and despite a clumsy trick of showing one of the sisters with her hair down and the other with her hair tied back), False Claims Creating confusion in the identity of the twins, there are times when we don’t really know who is who. Despite interesting supporting characters, the heart of the series is undeniably the relationship between the two sisters: a totally dysfunctional relationship of dependency and love-hate that borders on insane before fully committing to it. And it’s a dual role that Rachel Weisz capitalizes on brilliantly – to the point where we’re surprised to think the actresses (plural) playing the twins are truly excellent!

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Elliot and Beverly, Rachel Weisz squared.

Above all, however, the series is thematically removed from Cronenberg’s work. And with good reason: With two heroines, also in the field of gynecology and obstetrics, the series is able to address sensitive and also controversial issues from an exclusively female perspective. In this case, the twins (Elliott in particular) want to promote a medical practice bordering on illegal, revolutionizing science by crossing the red line (and we don’t use the expression without reason, since that color is the dominant color on screen). to push the boundaries of what is morally correct to improve the process by which women conceive and give birth. From there, the show talks about the limitations of fertility ethics, the medical violence women suffer, the interference of private funders in the healthcare field, the desire for motherhood, postpartum depression, labor pains, surrogacy, PMA, menopause, and other eugenics.

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As disturbing as the topics treated are, the staging is also disturbing: the series is visually stunning, explicitly even bloody. She’s not shy about showing blood, cesareans, traumatic deliveries, and other medical procedures; Especially the first episode starts with a series of bloody and shocking scenes. Let’s also mention a shocking sequence that uncovers the “work” of James Marion Sims, the 19th-century “father of modern gynaecology,” who conducted experiments on a 17-year-old slave girl and tortured her in the name of science.

A constant play of mirrors between the binoculars

Finally, False Claims bursting with ideas, food for thought, iconic scenes and lively dialogue. Maybe too much, to the point where we’re close to saturation. At times, the show loses track and adds dispensable subplots (like the one revolving around the Mantle housekeeper); When she refocuses on her main subjects, the dialogues are sometimes so theatrical that she loses all subtlety. All in False Claims, is in fact based on the excesses, the furious intoxication of the relationship between the two sisters, the explicit images. A bias that falls into an obvious overexposure to the story and the themes addressed, but which nonetheless has the merit of driving us into a dizzying and frightening neurotic spiral.

Adaptation or reinvention of Cronenberg’s eponymous film Faux-Semblants is far from perfect, with an excess that sometimes borders on the grotesque. The fact remains that the series offers a different and supposed look, tackling controversial issues from an interesting and relevant female point of view – all the more so in the context of the decline in women’s rights, particularly in relation to the right to dispose of their bodies. As dark, violent and perverse as the bond that binds its two heroines, masterfully embodied by Rachel Weisz, it is a miniseries that cannot leave anyone indifferent.

False Claims
6 episodes of about 55′.
Available on Amazon Prime Video.