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Archive for January 15th, 2013

Gemini (1999)

Gemini DVD

Yukio Daitokuji is a doctor who has taken over his father’s practice and on the surface leads an enviable life but things are a little bit strained between himself and his parents due to Yukio’s new wife Rin. They disapprove of her. Yukio found his wife on the banks of a river suffering from amnesia and with no idea where she came from. He also faces anger from the poor people living in a nearby slum who are suffering from the plague. Yukio chooses to ignore treating them in order to concentrate on his wealthy patients. Soon after an odd smell begins to emanate inside his house with a dark figure spotted sneaking around at night. Yukio’s world is turned upside down when his father is found dead with a piece of earth stuck inside his mouth followed soon after by his mother. Finally Yukio is confronted by somebody who looks like him. In a struggle between the two, he is thrown down a dried up well where the doppelganger tells him he is going to take over his life. So who is this individual? It’s none other than his twin brother who has come back to claim what is rightfully his. Will Yukio manage to escape from the well as his family’s dark secret is revealed?

Shinya Tsukamoto’s creative take on the ‘evil twin’ genre based on a novel by Edogawa Rampo is fantastic. He certainly knows how to grab your attention instantly with the opening shot of the movie featuring rats and maggots crawling on a rotting animal carcass! Don’t expect any of the hyperkinetic style that was associated with the Tetsuo movies, you might say Tsukamoto is more restrained in his approach here. The story is intriguing, unnerving and well told. It is chilling, creepy and the first third of the movie is so atmospheric. There’s a feeling of dread in the air and Tsukamoto’s use of sound to highlight that something is amiss is beautifully done. The cinematography with the use of colours employed by him to contrast between the rich world of Yukio and the slums of Sutekichi shows the viewer a director on top of his game. I loved how the story unfolded and through the use of flashbacks shows us how Yukio’s parents abandoned his twin because he had a snake-like deformity on his leg. They created the monster that eventually kills them. Sutekichi was dumped outside of the slums near a river. Growing up, the only way he could survive was to become a thief and this is how he meets Rin. Together they made a formidable thieving duo. Sutekichi looks terrifying in his clothes, much like a wild animal and covered in filth. You can well understand how Sutekichi would feel to see his family carrying on with their lives without a second thought for the son they threw out and seeing his lover Rin shack up with his brother. He has studied Yukio so meticulously that he is able to slide into his life effortlessly when he strikes without anybody thinking that anything is wrong. It is only Rin that begins to question whether Sutekichi is back due to the sexual attention that he is giving her – something that Yukio never did.

Gemini Screenshot

The story also shows the viewer the circumstances of how Rin managed to become Yukio’s wife and that her amnesia is all a lie. Yukio in return is made to understand what his brother has gone through when he thrown down the dry well. He begins to turn like his evil brother in appearance and is made to contemplate the wrong choices he has made in his life. During a violent storm a plague ridden woman and her baby came to his house begging for help but also at the same time the town mayor who was drunk and who had stumbled onto a spike also came for treatment. Instead of helping both people out he decides to only help the mayor showing his contempt for the lower classes. Now with the tables turned and his creature comforts taken away from him as he’s lying at the bottom of the well, he is given a taste of what it is like to be hungry and become like an animal whilst Sutekichi is teasing him from above about how he is going to ruin his doctor’s practice and have sex with his wife. The story comes full circle as both brothers gets to know what life is like in each other’s shoes. Eventually of course thanks to a mistake by Sutekichi, Yukio does escape from the well giving us a showdown between the two brothers. Without spoiling the ending of which brother emerges victorious, a change takes place in the surviving brother as he has taken on board the characteristics of the other much like a joining of souls. As for the acting in this movie, Masahiro Motoki who plays a complex dual role as Yukio and his evil twin Sutekichi is magnificent and so is Ryo as the mysterious and beautiful Rin with her fascinating large plate-like hairstyle who knows more than what she is cottoning on to Yukio and his wary parents.

I really liked this psychological tale by Tsukamoto. It’s an unsettling and refreshing alternative to the tired and cliched Japanese horror genre. Well worth checking out, more so if you like the director’s other works.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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