****/**** Image B- Sound D Extras B
starring Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi Von Palleske, Stephen Lack
written by David Cronenberg and Norman Snider, based on the book Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland
directed by David Cronenberg
by Bryant Frazer Dead Ringers begins and ends extraordinarily, with the soft swelling of Howard Shore's title music. It starts with the slow emergence of strings, which are eventually layered with harp and woodwinds, mining uncommon veins of sadness in a major key. Set against on-screen illustrations of an anatomical and explicitly gynecological nature, the music serves the obvious function of undercutting the film's pointedly unsettling subject matter with unalloyed lyricism. It's like a statement of purpose. But Shore's melody goes farther than that, somehow. It's remarkably haunting, for one thing--the theme is one of the most potent sensory triggers I know, instantly evoking both beauty and despair. Just the first four bars are enough to set me weeping. And it's penetrating. More than elegiac, it's specifically regretful, and bittersweet. According to Royal S. Brown's liner notes on the first CD release of the movie's score, the director knew it right away. "That's suicide music," Cronenberg told Shore when he first heard the theme. "You've got it."