As far as I know this was something of a first, at least since the 20s or 30s: a movie predicated on film theory that opened commercially. Written, directed, and produced by American independents Scott McGehee and David Siegel, this odd black-and-white ‘Scope thriller (1993) about identity and social construction concerns a young man named Clay who becomes briefly acquainted with his half brother Vincent. Vincent, who wants to flee the country, stages an accident meant to look like his own death, but substitutes Clay in his place. With everyone believing he’s dead, Vincent can easily disappear. But Clay survives the explosion, though he has amnesia, and with the help of a plastic surgeon and a psychoanalyst is restored to an identity that was never hisVincent’s. A subversive spin is given to this material: Clay and Vincent are said by all the characters to be dead ringers, yet Clay is played by a black actor and Vincent by a white oneand no one ever comments on it. The film may be at times a little too smart (as well as a little too drab and mechanical) for its own good, but the witty, provocative implications of the central concept linger, and the story carries an interesting sting: this is a head scratcher that actually functions. With Dennis Haysbert, Michael Harris, Mel Harris, Sab Shimono, and Dina Merrill. (JR)

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