Friday, September 5, 2014

Film on Friday#20 - The Identical

When I saw that Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd were in City of Peace's  new movie,  The Identical,I knew I wanted to see it - they're both favourite actors of mine.

IMBD's blurb: "Twin brothers are unknowingly separated at birth; one of them becomes an iconic rock 'n' roll star, while the other struggles to balance his love for music and pleasing his father."

The movie opens in hard times Tennessee in the 1930's. A poor young couple relinquish one of their twin sons (Drexel and Dexter) to a preacher and his wife, hoping for a better life for him. It is Dexter's (renamed Ryan) life that we follow, as he tries to ignore what feeds his soul and instead become a man of the cloth as his father wants. Drexel has the same love of music and pursues it, becoming a huge star.

As I watched, I started noting the similarities between this narrative and Elvis Presley's life. The timeframe, the twin brother, the religious influences, the army, the love of music, the hip shaking dancing, the smoldering good looks and more. Elvis was indeed a twin and his twin died at birth. Although the word Elvis is not mentioned officially anywhere, it is impossible not to note the parallels. Writer Howard Klausner has come up with an interesting premise....

It isn't long into the film when the music starts - and it's impossible not to tap your toes or feel like dancing. Lead actor Blake Rayne (AKA Ryan Pelton) has a really good voice and seems to have been the perfect choice for this role - he won an Elvis competition in 1998 and has worked as an Elvis impersonator up 'til now. (And I have to say, he really does look like Elvis) So, this character wasn't too much of a stretch. Rayne is a bit wooden in places, but shines when singing.

Ray Liotta - he plays such a great bad guy, it was an interesting idea to have him play a preacher. And he nails it, filling the role incredibly well. Ashley Judd is a supporting player here, with not a lot of screen time - but she too plays the role believably. Other cast members include his wife Jenny (Erin Cottrell) - I really liked her performance. Joe Pantoliano plays Ryan's boss and Seth Green his friend. Although both are veteran actors, I thought their performances were just a tad over the top.

While the men in the film are age progressed believably, the women fare far better. Ashley Judd doesn't seem to look a day older by the film's end. As does the twins' mother - white make up seems to have been the sole attempt to age her. The other thing I thought was needed was better wigs for Rayne - his just wasn't real looking - and the full facial hair was particularly bad (and uneven). Petty I know, but once I noticed, I couldn't stop looking.

The Identical has been marketed as a Christian film. "We want to bring films with a redeeming value to the world. One of the ways you do that is live where people are living, " says executive producer Yochanan Marcellino." The Identical explores family, values, choices, love, duty and more. It is indeed a film the whole family could watch, rated PG.

One excellent line from the movie resonated with me - "Don't run from who you are."
An entertaining film - and a really good soundtrack!
107 minutes releasing today - Sept.5/14

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