Review: The Identical

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The Identical

Firmly ensconced in the Great Depression, a young destitute couple is faced with a tough choice -- how to survive with two newborn sons when they can barely feed themselves -- in the drama The Identical. William Hemsley (Brian Geraghty) finds the answer at a evangelical tent service as the preacher Reece Wade (Ray Liotta) reveals that his wife Louise (Ashley Judd) is barren. The Hemsleys give one of their sons to the Wades with the promise that neither boy is to know of the other until after their biological parents pass away.

Blake Rayne debuts as the twin brothers who live very different lives. Drexel Hemsley achieves fame and fortune as a rock and roll star. Ryan Wade grows up under the ever watchful eye of his preacher father and patient mother. He tries to please his father by becoming part of the ministry, but he knows that it's not the true calling that he hears and shares with his estranged brother -- that of music.

The Identical can best be described as a "hot mess" -- lovely to look at, but is in total disarray. The hair and makeup design comes across so artificial as to be distracting. The set design of what is supposed to be a rough roadhouse is not believable.

Speaking of which, so much of the timing set up in this movie is quite implausible, even with divine intervention. Characters just happen to be in the right place at the right time in remote settings, whether it's Ryan locating his biological family home and graves on the very day that his biological father is there, to supporting character Dino (Seth Green).

We witness Ryan Wade's maturing into a grown man but it's not revealed how Drexel Hemsley goes from rags to riches. It's also difficult to tell whether Drexel Hemsley is merely meant to be an alternate version of Elvis, as much of his appearance and behavior seems more caricatures of Jim Morrison and Tom Jones. Rayne's performance comes across almost as wooden as his well-chiseled features are also just too perfect to allow for any realism whatsoever.

The saving grace with The Identical is that the songs are palatable. Rayne's background as a Nashville musician and Elvis impersonator is well demonstrated in this movie. Judd's pained expressions are probably fueled by the comic nature of many of the scenes, as she is grossly underused.

What surprises me the most is despite the religious subplots and the tagline of "If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them," this film does a poor job of relaying its spiritual message. Don't get me wrong -- heavy-handed faith based movies can often alienate audiences, but The Identical unfortunately lacks the ability to demonstrate a spiritual journey for its characters.