As far as I know this is something of a first, at least since the 20s or 30s: a movie predicated on film theory playing in a commercial theater. Written, directed, and produced by American independents Scott McGehee and David Siegel, this odd black-and-white ‘Scope thriller (1993) about identity and social construction concerns a young man named Clay who becomes briefly acquainted with his half-brother Vincent. Vincent, who wants to flee the country for various reasons, secretly arranges to have Clay blown up in Vincent’s car wearing Vincent’s clothes; with everyone believing he’s dead, Vincent can easily disappear. But Clay survives the explosion, though he has amnesia, and with the help of a plastic surgeon and a psychoanalyst is “restored” to an identity that was never his–Vincent’s. A subversive spin is given to this material: Clay and Vincent are said by all the characters to be dead ringers, yet Clay is played by a black actor and Vincent by a white one–and no one ever comments on it. The film may be at times a little too smart (as well as a little too drab and mechanical) for its own good, but the witty, provocative implications of the central concept linger, and the story carries an interesting sting: this is a head scratcher that actually functions. With Dennis Haysbert, Michael Harris, Mel Harris, Sab Shimono, and Dina Merrill. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, July 8 through 14.

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