Review: Benedict Cumberbatch Plays Twins in Inseparable

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We already know from everything from Sherlock to Star Trek to The Hobbit to The Imitation Game that Benedict Cumberbatch can play just about any character with panache. But have you seen him portray two different characters at the same time?

In Inseparable, an acclaimed short film originally released in 2007, beloved father and husband Joe discovers he is dying and calls on his estranged twin brother Charlie, a day-drinking gambler. As they reconcile, Joe gives Charlie a chance to make a fresh start.

As the short is only a sparse 11 minutes long, to reveal any more would be to do it a disservice but suffice it to say that Inseparable is a very moving piece. The film is practically silent, with only a few lines here and there. Instead, the story is deftly told through visuals – e.g. the image of Joe looking forlorn in a doctor’s surgery is far more powerful than having his diagnosis spelled out for us in dialogue. Thankfully, the cinematography and sound design are both esquisitely done and the result is an all-round beautifully-made short.

Without much dialogue to work with, Benedict gives a nuanced physical performance – or rather two – in his dual roles. As the brothers, Benedict holds himself in completely different ways. Joe is straight-backed and solemn while Charlie is looser, with slurred movements. They might look identical, but thanks to Benedict they become separate people.

But what really lifts Inseparable into greatness is the final moments of the piece. A truly ambiguous ending, it is up to the viewer to make their own interpretation of what has occured. Congrats to Benedict’s co-star Natalie Press here for selling so much through a single facial expression.

A few years ago, production company Area 17 were hoping to make a feature length version of Inseparable, which would have been a fascinating watch as there is so much more drama to be pulled from this all-too-short film. As it is, though, Inseparable is another fine, if brief, example of Benedict’s chameleonic acting talents.

Directed by Nick White and written by Matthew James Wilkinson, Inseparable can be purchased from the good people at We Are Colony for just £1.99. It also comes with a bundle of behind the scenes videos and stills.

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Have you seen Inseparable? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments!

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