Though constrained by a rather flabby middle-portion, this Italian drama about the unique predicament of two conjoined twins provides a compelling window into a way of life most audiences will nary have put a thought to.
Teenage conjoined twin sisters Dasy and Viola (played by actual conjoined twins Angela and Marianna Fontana) work as singers revered for their novel appeal and striking beauty, but when one of the two learns that they can be safely separated with a fairly simple operation, their songwriter father Peppe (Massimiliano Rossi) takes drastic measures to keep the two, essentially his gravy-train, together.
There’s probably a Bizarro World version of this movie that’s adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel and aggressively attempts to wring tears from your eyeballs. Indivisible is thankfully no such movie, more a quietly sad look at the considerable hardships faced by conjoined persons, and the inevitable psychological trauma that forms when a dispute emerges over whether or not to separate.
Director Edoardo De Angelis does a terrific job giving the layperson a glimpse into the lives of these two people without turning it into a leering work of exploitation. This isn’t just thanks to his deft handle on tone – there is some wry humour peppered throughout – but the Fontana twins themselves, who command the screen at every moment, and despite looking so physically similar, carve out distinct personalities for themselves.
After a storming first act, it’s a shame things settle down into more familiar and sluggish territory during the second reel, contributing at least 10-15 minutes of material that could’ve been left on the cutting room floor (even if they do perhaps heighten the urgent anxiety of the will-they-won’t-they central dilemma).
Still, the pic reforms in its climax for a dramatically satisfying turn of events that cements the feeling that we as viewers have been on a journey with these two young women. While it tussles with ennui mid-way, there’s over an hour of material here that’s terrifically on-point.
Indivisible premieres at the London Film Festival on October 5th