Overview: Conjoined twins Viola and Dasy come of age and begin to question the direction of their separate lives. Tramp Ltd.; 2017; Not Rated; 100 minutes
Together: Indivisible gets right into it, addressing the question that comes to everyone’s most honest mind: how attached are they, and what sensations are shared between them? The film opens on conjoined twins Viola and Dasy, Viola sleeping soundly with a pleasured smile on her face as Dasy lazily touches her vulva, seemingly more bored with the morning than actually aroused. This initially shows us that what affects one girl’s body somehow transfers to the other and is confirmed when Dasy lectures Viola for eating too many pastries for breakfast, causing stomach pains before a performance. It also shows us the main problem, the twins have become women and are each seeking out a way to fulfill their personal and very separate desires.
Viola and Dasy live a regimented life, woken by Titti (Antonia Truppo, who I bet can act circles around this role) their mother, dolled up and put in a van to travel around performing as vocalists for cold hard cash. It’s obvious the family has made a small fortune from parading their daughters around, most offensively by positing that the girls are saints with some magical healing properties with help from the corrupt church. The girls are encouraged and expected to smile, sing, and let paying customers touch them whenever and wherever they want (most often the space at which they are conjoined) Without question, they nod and pose for pictures with saintly acceptance of their total lack of privacy. Profit is what’s most important to their father, a failed poet who writes the songs the girls perform, and their mother floats along with the plan stoned out of her gourd, a fat joint hanging from her lips most of the time.
Apart: Though they’re only superficially attached at the hip, it’s easy to view Viola and Dasy as two sides of the same person. It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to be physically attached to another soul, so instead we see two parts of ourselves reflected in the girls. This is boosted mostly by the trope-like differences in the girls’ personalities; Dasy is more aggressive, louder, wilder, and the half that most wants to be set free. Viola is quieter, more afraid and questioning. She is more childlike than Dasy, who reaches out towards her womanhood instead of shrinking away, wanting to make love and drink wine and travel to LA to pursue her dreams. When the two learn that it’s possible to be separated, Dasy is ecstatic and driven while Viola is afraid and passive. It’s a theme that’s been explored before, most recently in American Horror Story: Freakshow, but classically in several films. That is to say, this story is as predictable as it is valuable, and it will always be current as long as we wrestle with the inherently different parts of ourselves. Change and separation will, for the most part, always be painful and require a leaving of some part of ourselves behind.
The girls are played by Angela and Marianna Fontana, two stunning young women who absolutely steal the show. They display the kind of synchronicity only twins have that’s endlessly fascinating and often creepy to watch. This is the strongest point of Indivisible, the way that the Fontana sisters perform and play off each other. Their emotions are powerful and believable and it’s what holds the movie together when the narrative is weak and the script can’t make up its mind. They effectively display the fear and uncertainty of their separation even though it will almost certainly improve both of their lives, adding a complexity that’s lacking from the overall story and supporting characters. Viola and Dasy’s self-awareness and personal growth will get in the way of their perceived monetary value, and their desire for individualism will challenge their ideas of personhood and self. Family secrets come to light, grave risks are taken, and the payoff is questionable. When the two, seeking money for their operation, go to their last resort, they find themselves in a sort of floating den of fetishes and, of course, through this experience we’ll learn Viola is really the stronger one.
Overall: Indivisible never really goes as dark as the premise and production value would allow. It often feels like a dark fairy tale as the girls perform to bizarre crowds at first communions, proposals, and church events. Beautifully shot, it gives an almost post-apocalyptic feel to the Italian setting, smoky and windswept alongside the churning sea. The subtly religious iconography of the twins is haunting, especially near the end of the film as they walk, shrouded in veils with stigmata-like wounds in their hands. But the end of the film feels painful, unresolved, and strange. Dasy will often comment about how it feels like she is in a dream, and director Edoardo De Angelis’ movie will make you feel the same, for better or worse.
Featured Image: Medusa