Brothers of the Head
- Miles Fielder
- 2 October 2006
This British mock-rock-doc is something of a curate’s egg. It purports to tell the life stories of Tom and Barry Howe, a pair of conjoined twins who were snatched from the obscurity of England’s southern marshlands and transformed into rock stars in the 1970s by a music mogul before becoming the pioneers of punk rock. Despite this ridiculous conceit the film plays the Howe brothers story completely straight. Moreover, the attention to the details of their short-lived careers is obsessive. Thus, while there are no laughs as such, the film as a whole can be enjoyed as one big practical joke. Filmmaker Ken Russell pops up in one scene, being interviewed about the unfinished film he made based on the Howe brothers’ lives, which is followed by a clip of the film-within-a-film that is so convincing it looks like Russell himself directed it.
The leading roles are played by acting twins (not conjoined) Luke and Harry Treadaway, who deliver a pair of credible performances under the co-direction of Americans Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (who previously documented Terry Gilliam’s disastrous attempt to film Don Quixote in Lost in La Mancha). Fulton and Pepe maintain an admirably poker-faced approach to the material, working from a script by Tony Grisoni, whose previous collaborations with the aforementioned Gilliam on Tideland and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas give you an inkling of just how gloriously demented his imagination is. And yet the origins of this genuinely eccentric oddity go back to the 1970s and what turned out to be a very prescient novel by the grandfather of British science fiction, Brian Aldiss. It could only have been made on these shores.
GFT, Glasgow; Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow & Cinewold Edinburgh.