Double Vision

As rabid Rings fans still digest the first Smaug trailer with its return of Legolas and introduction of Kate Austen, sorry, Tauriel, one of the original cycle’s firm fan favourites sneaks into Kiwi cinemas this week.

Yes, renaissance man Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn himself) pulls double acting duties in the fantastically atmospheric Argentine thriller Everybody Has A Plan (Todos tenemos un plan).

Written and directed by Ana Piterbarg, it sees Mortensen playing two brothers whose lives have taken very different paths but whose world’s collide when one turns up on the other’s doorstep asking her help. To say anymore about this at times brilliant backwoods thriller would be a crime.

Evoking memories of things like A Simple Plan, Sommersby (and its progenitor The Return of Martin Guerre), Dead Ringers, TV’s Dexter and fellow Argentine thriller The Aura, it begins with a jolting almost Lynchian shift between two “worlds” before the puzzle pieces slowly fall into place and the film’s thrilling but taut sense of menace and danger kicks in. Surrounded by a fabulous collection of character actors with memorable phsyiogs, the eclectic actor not only proves his range but also his adeptness at Spanish (honed from spending half his childhood in Argentina while his father worked on chicken farms and ranches), as well as again proving his ability (previously best showcased in the likes of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises) to mix gentle grace with simmering violent tendencies.

Watching the film (and recently getting the chance to see Cloud Atlas with all its crazy multiple-role casting on the big screen in Australia - it comes out on DVD here on June 26) got me thinking about other actors who have pulled off dual roles with aplomb (and no I’m not counting Michael Keaton in Multiplicity or Tem Morrison in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones).

There’s Nicolas Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Spike Jonze’s 2002 metafilm Adaptation, Christian Bale’s under the radar turns as Alfred Borden and Bernard Fallon in prestadigitator drama The Prestige, Jeremy Irons as the creepy Mantle brothers (gynaecology a speciality) in David Cronenberg’s disturbing Dead Ringers, Jack Nicholson’s mad duo of US President James Dale and Las Vegas property developer Art Land in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks and further back - and depending on your interpretation of onscreen events - Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr. and Kim Novak in Vertigo.

Of course on the comedy side of things, two roles is just another day at the office for the likes of Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Jerry Lewis and Mike Myers although the quality is sometimes more than questionable. Not so Sir Alec Guinness who before he was Obi Wan played no less than eight members of the D’Ascoyne family in 1949 British black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets.

But I’m keen to hear from you. What are your favourite ‘‘multiple’’ performances?