It’s here that “The Identical” unfortunately passes by some opportunities. The movie spends little screen time with the character of Drexel, but it does show one scene in which he expresses his lifelong guilt over surviving while his twin died (something which supposedly haunted the real Elvis as well). Given this emotional baggage, it would have been interesting to see how it would affect Drexel to interact with his doppelganger, but the movie never goes there. Instead, it concentrates on Ryan and his growing dissatisfaction with singing another person’s songs. Once again, in a sense, Ryan is following someone else’s path.
At its most basic, “The Identical” is a film about callings. Drexel grows up to do that which he was born to do, be The Dream. Reverend Wade also follows what he feels called to do, and he’s good at it. Reece is portrayed as a man who is caring to his family, concerned for his flock, and someone who practices what he preaches.
To be sure, Reece has a blind spot when it comes to Ryan’s dreams, but his determination to see the boy become a preacher is based not on selfish desires, but his honest belief that Ryan is rebelling against his true calling. Kudos have to be given to both the script and Liotta’s underplayed performance here. They turn what easily could have been just another caricature of a pastor into a real person.
Ryan, on the other hand, is conflicted. He wants to honor and respect the people he loves, but he also feels drawn towards his own wants and dreams. He’s like a lot of us, I suppose, trying to discern what God wants from our lives, but sometimes not quite sure what that is. And like a lot of us, he discovers the answer isn’t what anyone thought it was going to be, but is one that is ultimately more satisfying in the end.
Like this year’s “Mom’s Night Out,” “The Identical” is something of a throwback to the PG rated movies of old. It’s geared towards adults but safe for children, though admittedly there’s probably not too many kids out there who are going to be interested in an Elvis-inspired drama. It’s not necessarily a faith-based film (c’mon, it’s got Liotta, Judd and Green in it), but it’s also not afraid to show that religion plays a big part in a lot of people’s lives. It’s a solid enough movie, but relatively tame compared to what else is out there in cinemas, so it will likely play better to television audiences than it will modern moviegoers. And it doesn’t do everything with the premise that it could, but some of the things it does are pretty nice. All in all, the only unforgivable sin “The Identical” commits is assault with an ugly shirt. Other than that, it’s not too bad.
In a world he didn’t create, in a time he didn’t choose, one man looks for signs of God in the world by… watching movies. When he’s not reviewing new releases for Aleteia,David Ivesspends his time exploring the intersection of low-budget/cult cinema and Catholicism at The B-Movie Catechism.