Movie Review: Brothers of the Head

By Amy Lamare, July 22, 2006

Brothers of the Head (BROHD) is what happens when Stuck on You and Spinal Tap get together and have a mildly deformed love child. That’s not to say this flick from first time helmers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe is not amusing and enjoyable, because in many ways, it is. But it’s also quirky in a way that sort of makes your head and stomach hurt. Whether or not this is a bad thing is up to the individual, I suppose.

The screenplay for this British flight of fancy mockumentary comes from Terry Gilliam (TGILL) collaborator Tony Grisoni, and the narrative approach of the film relies heavily on the Gilliam school of filmmaking. That is, don’t expect it to always make sense, expect it to descend into madness at least once, but rest assured even when its not making sense its visually and narratively arresting.

Based on the novel by Brian Aldiss, the story is centered on a pair of Siamese twins in the 1970s named Luke and Barry Treadway. The Treadways live on a desolate stretch of the English coastline. A lawyer played by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’s (PIRT2) Jonathan Pryce (JPRYC) finds the twins and sees dollar signs. He has their father sign a somewhat suspicious and unethical contract and voila, the twins are his. What are he and the down-on-his-luck band manager he works with going to do with them? If you’re thinking side show freaks, you’re not far off.

The pair turn them into the hottest pop sensation to hit London in, oh, the last 15 minutes. The film highlights the circus like atmosphere of sudden fame and rock stardom appropriately before it descends into the madness and depression surrounding the twins’ inevitable fall from grace.

Still, the twins’ foray into celebrity is rife with black comedy. Imagine for a moment the sex lives of rock stars. We all know the rumors and legends and hey, maybe you’re one of the chosen thousands who’ve slept with one. More power to you. Take what you know and think of conjoined twins. It’s like a college dorm bunk bed when one bunk inhabitant is gettin’ some and the other is lying there rolling their eyes and contemplating taking something for motion sickness. Predictably, but told in ironically self mocking mockumentary fashion, it is a woman who tears the twins apart. (Figuratively, not literally.) (Pun intended.)

Like most films in this genre, it succeeds and fails at the same time. Mockumentaries can be relentlessly self-mocking and this is no exception. However, Pryce’s character’s desire to exploit the twins freakishness and the twins willingness to go along with it if it means they’d be accepted for one moment does strike an emotional chord amidst the cacophony of fame and celebrity. Dialogue and art direction are spot on for the time period in which Brothers of the Head takes place.

Brothers of the Head premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, played at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival and is slated for limited release in the U.S. this summer. Look for pic to obtain cult like status over time and take its place in the annals of rock mockumentary history.

Oh, were you wondering where the twins were conjoined? Tom and Barry are joined together at the lower chest. Now try and imagine those rock star sex lives.

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