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Indivisible | 2016 Toronto Int. Film Festival Review

It Takes Two: De Angelis Crafts Distinctive Neapolitan Drama on Siamese Twins

 Edoardo de Angelis IndivisibleSiamese twins have always made alluring subjects for the cinema, whether at the center of genre (De Palma’s Sisters), exploitation (Browning’s Freaks), or slapstick comedy (the Farrelly Bros. Stuck on You). Italian filmmaker Edoardo de Angelis tackles a dramatic character study of Siamese twin girls in his third feature, Indivisible, which has comparable hints to the likes of Fellini in a carnivalesque depiction of children taken advantage of by their parents for personal gain. Exploring themes of identity, independence, and personal growth as something only possible by growing apart rather than staying together, de Angelis creates a peculiar universe through this tale of two sisters treated as local deities who bless the masses in between staged concerts where they perform songs written by their father.

Twin sisters Daisy and Violet (Angela and Marianna Fontana) are a desirable commodity in their home town of Caserta in northern Italy. A musical act managed by their father (Massimiliano Rossi), a songwriter with a penchant for downbeat ballads, the locals revere the sisters as a lucky omen since they are connected at the hip. Now turning eighteen, a chance meeting with a doctor reveals the sisters don’t share any major organs and could easily be separated, setting the comfortable family act into an emotional tailspin. Should they be separated, the family will no longer have an easy income, as they support not just dad, but pothead mom (Antonia Truppo) and two gay uncles. But the young women are determined to attain their individuality, resulting in complicated schemes to obtain the necessary funds, meanwhile causing major turmoil amongst their family and community members who look to them for solace.

As the conjoined sisters, actual twins Angela and Marianna Fontana are enjoyable and compelling, rendering a sympathetic portrait of two juxtaposed personalities, each with their own desires and values. Food and sex appeals to each of them differently, as does the meaning of what will happen once they separate, which for one equals freedom to travel to Los Angeles and pursue her dreams of becoming a singing sensation like Janis Joplin.

Two figures accelerate their sudden rejection of an existence they had only recently held to be their only option—a terse doctor, chastising their parents for selfishly allowing the girls to become emotionally co-dependent when they could have been separated at birth, and film director Marco Ferreri (the director’s 1964 film The Ape Woman details a similar narrative of a woman exploited in the circus). Comparable to classic Fellini titles or newer works from Jodorowsky examining nostalgic and bizarre portraits from their youth, de Angelis takes a more sobering approach, grounding the extraordinary in less sensational tones.

The vibrant entertainment appeal of the sisters for the locals also recalls the cinema of Matteo Garrone, particularly 2012’s Reality, especially as the sisters are chastised for voicing a desire to separation—it is this uniqueness which allows them and their parents to live comfortably, as there’s inherently less value in being ‘normal.’ The cost of such a decision brings the sisters to a literal breaking point, which may be expected given the straightforward trajectory (de Angelis could have easily made his subjects and their ordeals much more grotesque)—but the film’s closing moments are incredibly poignant, a visually evocative culmination as tender and touching as it is an exemplification of the title’s major themes.


Reviewed on September 15th at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival – Contemporary World Cinema Programme. 104 Minutes.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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