Film Review: The Identical

What if there were two Elvises? Better yet, what if this silly film had never been made?

It's a pretty well-known fact that Elvis Presley had an identical twin brother (who was still-born), and in The Identical director Dustin Marcellino and screenwriter Howard Klausner fully exploit this fact. Their concoction imagines the twins surviving but separated at birth in 1935, with one of them, Ryan (Blake Rayne), being adopted by a preacher man, Reece Wade (Ray Liotta), and his barren wife Louise (Ashley Judd). Ryan is expected to become a minister himself by domineering Reece, but instead falls under the spell of rhythm-and-blues. He defies his father and becomes a passable singer/songwriter, while his twin Drexel (Rayne again) shoots to stardom as the king of rock ’n’ roll, which many believe he invented. Irony of ironies, Ryan eventually becomes a Drexel impersonator known as "The Identical.”

There's a whole lot of Bible-banging in this film, produced by the faith-based City of Peace Films, and while one wants to remain as open-minded as possible about it, the results are pretty dire. Marcellino's helming is workmanlike at best, while Klausner's screenplay is a morass of fairly predictable clichés. The entire design of the film has a too-glossy, antiseptic look wholly unrelated to real life, and the songs (by Marcellino's father and grandfather) are annoyingly bland pastiches of actual period hits like "Be-Bop-A-Lula." Instead of being carried away by Rayne's dynamism, you find your mind wandering, trying to locate the original source material which has been so slavishly copied.

Rayne shares the Michelangelo David chiseled yet baby-faced handsomeness of the real Elvis and seems a proficient enough performer, but when he first opens his mouth, the faux Presley-an sound which emerges is so ridiculously amplified that it's not only unbelievable but downright tacky. Liotta is entirely unconvincing, with a bogus cornpone accent, while Judd, in an excess of personal vanity, eternally resembles Rayne's sister more than his mother. (It's remindful of the way Miriam Hopkins diva-ishly refused to age through the decades in her two films with the more authentic Bette Davis). The other performers in the cast, including Seth Green who has somewhere wandered in here as Rayne's boyhood pal, are adequate but really nothing more than pawns in this dreary, all-too-calculated confection.

Click here for cast & crew information.