Gemini (Soseiji, 1999), based on a story by Edogawa Rampo, is a smoothly directed, glossy horror yarn from the director of that rough classic Tetsuo Iron Man (1989). Gemini is a highly original story, well acted, creepy as the dickens.
Among the extras on the dvd release is a seventeen minute documentary on the Making of Gemini (2000).
This little documentary is by the well-known director Takeshi Miike, which gives it more cache than most such making-of extras. It shows some real behind-the-scenes moments & incorporates interviews, but alas it is not subtitled.
Gemini is set in Tokyo about 1910. A successful young doctor, Daitokuji Yukio (Motoki Masahiro), has a wife, Rin (played by one-name model turned actress "Ryo"), whose background is unknown. When Yukio met her, she had severe amnesia.
She has pity & concern for disease-ridden slum dwellers, but her husband would just as soon see all such people die. He likes to care exclusively for patients who can afford to pay. His attitude toward the poor causes a rift between the couple; & the question arises, since Rin's origins are unknown, couldn't she have been one of the slum people?
Their home & private clinic seem to be haunted by an evil presence, a dark doppelganger of Yukio.
The dark twin may or may not have caused the death of Yukio's father (Yasutaka Tsutsui) & mother. It was nice to see Shiho Fujimura as the old mom; when she was young & gosh darned beautiful she frequently starred opposite the late great Raizo Ichikawa.
The physician doesn't seem all that humane a fellow, having willfully allowed the death of a beggar (Renji Ishibashi) while tending to the wealthy mayor (Naoto Takenaka). So it's not a good twin/bad twin set-up, but more of a bad twin/worse twin.
One morning Yukio is shoved into a dry well, imprisoned therein, & replaced by the doppelganger with no one the wiser. The doppelganger closes the surgical department of the clinic, as he apparently lacks the original Yukio's surgical expertise.
He goes to the well to ask the imprisoned doctor, "What should I do about your patients? Maybe I'll inject them with my piss."
With eerie soundscape (music by Chu Ishikawa) & strange color pallet, plus the unusual visages of the cast, this film was spooky even before the doppelganger showed up.
There's sufficient surrealism for the doppelganger to be something supernatural, though as with many Edogawa Rampo stories of sadism, there's also the rational explanation.
The doppelganger is Yukio's actual twin brother Sutekichi, separated at birth, with one of them raised in the slums. But this idea may be only Rin's dream or fractured memory, & Sutekichi possibly never existed except in her imagination. So that's a second potentially "rational" explanation, Rin's madness.
[SPOILER ALERT!] Rin's mysterious past is conveyed in phantasmagorical ghostly flashbacks. Yukio in the well, his doppelganger now living with Rin, seem unusually connected to one another by more than appearance.
As the illusion of the supernatural is undermined & fades with a mystery's unfolding, Gemini becomes one of the cruelest of contes cruels, psychologically totally twisted. [END SPOILER ALERT] Truly an amazing film.
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