We haven’t actually seen "Mr. Brooks," though you can bet we have a date with it in the nearish future on some cable channel some sunny afternoon when everyone who knows better is outside. Reviews have ranged from tolerant to derisive, but we can never turn down a film in which one actor pops up as another’s alter ego/split personality/symbol of a fractured consciousness, one of our favorite, rarely as profound as it’s intended film devices. A selective tour (with spoilers, for the sensitive) of the genre’s highlights and lowlights:
"High Tension" (2003)
According to the DVD extras, most of the clues that would presage this
French splatter flick’s doozy of a last reel reveal were trimmed due to
budgetary and time constraints. This makes the twist, that our intrepid
heroine Marie (CÃ©cile De France)
is in fact the very hulking killer she’s been following/fleeing, and that
he’s a manifestation of her thwarted lesbian lust somethingerother, all
the more sublimely ludicrous in a way that surely would have tickled BuÃ±uel. Speaking of…
"That Obscure Object of Desire" (1977)
So you could argue that there’s no pattern to be found amongst the scenes when Carole Bouquet is playing Conchita and when Ãngela Molina is, which would mean that this film doesn’t belong on this list. But be its just Rorschach imaginings, there does seem to be some reasoning behind the switches, though not easy to articulate. After all, while both actresses have their own way portraying Conchita’s tendency to run hot and cold, it’s the aloof Bouquet who lounges in a makeshift chastity belt while the coy Molina flamenco dances in the nude and gets slapped around.
In "Adaptation," Nicolas Cage‘s Charlie Kaufman listens with not a little condescension as his twin Donald describes the screenplay he’s whipped up: "The 3" features a killer, a hostage and an investigator who get into a chase involving a horse, but who nevertheless end up being, somehow, the same person. "Mom called it ‘psychologically taut,’" bleats Donald, though actually everyone else in the film also seems to like his script â€” but the joke (or not) is ultimately on the real Kaufman. The very next year James Mangold‘s ridiculous thriller "Identity" actually arrived in theaters, offering no less than ten people who turn out to be multiple personalities in a serial killer’s mind.
"Fight Club" (1999)
At less than a decade old, "Fight Club" somehow seems quaintly dated, not the least because of the collapsing skyscraper towers at the finale. Still, David Fincher‘s film is so brash and so committed to its late 90s disaffected man-child rage that it makes the seventh inning revelation â€” that Brad Pitt‘s Tyler Durden is a wish-fulfilling side personality born of the malaise and insomnia of Edward Norton‘s nameless narrator â€” seem fitting, an appropriately audacious narrative turn for a film that espouses redemption via a split lip.
"Twin Peaks" (1990)
The story goes that David Lynch unintentionally caught set dresser Frank Silva‘s reflection in a mirror on camera, and found the image so startlingly creepy and effective that he cast Silva in the series. Flattering, yes? Bob was technically a possessor of Ray Wise‘s Leland Palmer and not a part of him… unless he is, as suggested by one character, just a metaphor for "the evil that men do." Knowing the mutable mythology of the series, either could be true.
"The Neighbour No. 13" (2005)
Given the frequency with which school trauma is an undercurrent of Japanese horror, dripping girl ghosts have nothing on the social carnage that apparently takes place in the average high school classroom there. In Yasuo Inoue‘s interesting if lousily paced film, Juzo (Shun Oguri), a boy who was bullied (assaulted, really) in school grows up to be a man being bullied by Akai, the same guy, at his construction job. Unfortunately for Akai and his family, Juzo’s developed a beefier, more murderous split personality played by Shido Nakamura. The two battle for control, "Superman III"-style, in a cabin of symbolism in Juzo’s mind.