There are, it seems, two distinct periods in David Cronenberg's career: the horror schlockmeister, and the director of surreal thrillers. This isn't necessarily to say that he's completely changed; all of his films show some degree of interest in "perverted" psychologies. Nor is it to say that all of his films fit neatly into either of those categories; Naked Lunch and Cosmopolis, to name two examples, seem to confound all notions of genre (which is part of what makes them equally fascinating and frustrating). But Cronenberg is a master at creating films that disorient and disturb, asking the audience to consider things that we may not want to.
For example, check out the first scene in their shared, luxurious apartment. Elliot, the charming one and the public face of the duo (he does most of their speaking engagements), is shown against the backdrop of their spacious apartment:
Bev, on the other hand, is the shy, bookish one; he works in their clinic and is the brain behind most of their accomplishments. He's seen more in the foreground, in his study, wearing more casual clothes than Elli's dapper suits:
This motif is repeated throughout the film - Elli shown at a distance, Bev shown in close-up. It's a necessary distinction, since the twins love to swap places and pretend to be one another. There's a very strong sexual tension between these two - an impressive facet of Irons' performance - and they both let their kinks out with Claire, much to her eventual disgust. There's plenty to unpack in their fixation on each other and disturbing need to "separate," psychologically conjoined and needing to be autonomous, especially as Bev further spirals out of control.
The film's psychological focus, though, leads to my choice for Best Shot:
Other great shots:
Dead Ringers was Cronenberg's follow-up to The Fly, which was embarrassingly rich with grotesque body horror. This film was more psychological, but a dream sequence about Bev and Elli being physically conjoined shows Cronenberg couldn't help himself.
I love how the surgical gowns look like robes, turning the surgery into a religious ritual. The red, in particular, makes it a really powerful image.
The new instruments Bev has made are perfectly grotesque phalluses, aren't they?
A perfect distillation of the film's theme: sexual passion juxtaposed with clinical instruments.