“BROTHERS OF THE HEAD”
We are Siamese if You Please
“Brothers of the Head”, a small indie film (IFC Films) is a feverish ad “mind-bending” tale of twins who are conjoined at birth (Tom and Barry Howe) who became a novelty rock and roll act. We are given a tour of the underground of the world of rock of the 1970s and a look into a destructive and beautiful relationship. The movie is a “mockumentary”.
Conjoined or Siamese twins are a rarity in the world occurring once every 75,000 to 100,000 births. In “Brothers of the Head” a new look at a situation not often talked about is presented. Tom and Barry Howe become punk music stars and their story is a unique one. They become a sensation in the music world and their “twinness” titillates as they play with the layer of skin that conjoins them. As they become famous, they also become hooked on booze and drugs and intruder comes into their lives as does love.
Watching this movie is akin to watching a freak show and part of the fun of the movie is trying to decide if it is for real. This is a disturbing look at a disturbing fact of the world. The twins, who are born joined at the stomach, share a liver as well as some severe psychological problems. When a producer sees them, he also sees money in the bank as he attempts to propel the two from nowhere to stardom. “The Bang Bang”, the bad formed starring the twins, develops a talent for short, scary punk melodies The uniqueness of the band is the twins and we see them doing the things everyone does—eating, sleeping, bathing together and we also see signs of incest and bisexuality.
The story of the Howe twins began in 1975 and through interviews with people who knew the twins then we learn about how they lived. The high emotions of the film are presented through songs. We are given a look at jealousy and anger as well as resentment as one twin; Barry is more hotheaded than the other, Tom, who is much more gentle and subdued. Barry especially resents Tom when he falls in love with a journalist. Sibling rivalry is what causes the end of “The Bang Bang”.
This movie could have been a joyous exploration into a world that most of us know nothing about. Instead the dourness of the film makes some of it quite tedious. On the other hand, the performances are wonderful and the music is great. The twins really had no musical skills so the back-up band was recruited to give them a sense of knowing what they were doing.
The most redeeming aspect of the film is the look into glam rock that it provides. The language is quite strong as is the drug use. Simulated sex is extensive and there is some violence and a bit of nudity.
I enjoyed learning about an aspect of life I know nothing about and I do admire the creativity shown in the film. It is an experience and has a lot to offer.