(director/writer: Erin Vassilopoulos; screenwriter: Alessandra Mesa; cinematographer: Mia Cioffi Henry; editor: Jennifer Ruff/Erin Vassilopoulos; music: Jessica Moss; cast: Alessandra Mesa (Marian), Ani Mesa (Vivian), Pico Alexander (Robert), Jake Hoffmann (Mike), Stanley Simons (Miles), Liz Cameron (Swimmer), Sonia Conlin (Woman at Bar); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ben Cohen/Patrick Donovan/Grant Curatola; World Sales; 2021)
“Predictable but pungent psychodrama that is mildly diverting.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The audacious feature film debut of Erin Vassilopoulos is shot on 16mm film. She co-writes the droll indie thriller, set in 1987, that explores identity, with Alessandra Mesa (one of the lead performers). It stars the real-life identical twins, the Mesa sibs, who give terrific performances to make the shallow film seem to have more depth than it does. Superior is an expansion of Erin’s 2015 short of the similar name.
Marian (Alessandra Mesa), a punk rock band singer, is on the run after her narrow escape from her violently abusive boyfriend Robert (Pico Alexander), as she commandeers their car and runs him over in a rush to get away. She returns to her upstate New York suburban hometown to hide out with her dull married estranged identical twin sister, Vivian (Ani Mesa), but fails to tell her or her nerdy husband Mike (Jake Hoffmann), the real reason why she came back.
Marian somehow convinces Vivian to switch places with her for a single day. The one day becomes another until it becomes a permanent switch. Slowly but surely each twin discovers both the advantages and disadvantages of being the other person. Marian now sleeps with the husband who wants to make a baby and Vivian now gets her jollies working for minimum wage in an ice cream parlor.
The anxiety rises to see if Marian’s crazed boyfriend is really dead or if he’s alive will he come to get her. Meanwhile Marian keeps up the pretense to be Vivian by dying her hair a different color. Since we can now only tell the twins apart by the way their hairstyles slightly differ, we see them each in a different light as they adjust to their new identities.
Erin’s a David Lynch fan and brings to this film the same kooky aesthetic mood of his 1980s set Twin Peaks, but in a more conventional film without so much paranoia or punch to it. For the viewer, the treat is focusing on the twins and trying to figure out in this stylish retro film ‘who is who,’ as maybe that will lead to ‘what is what’ in this predictable but pungent psychodrama that is mildly diverting.
REVIEWED ON 2/13/2021 GRADE: B-