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The Identical

The Identical
Starring:
Seth Green, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Brian Geraghty, Joe Pantoliao and Ryan Pelton


Rated: PG for thematic material and smoking.
Reviewed by: Chris  
Release date: September 8, 2014 Released by: Freestyle Releasing

Ray Liotta, in a departure role, stars in this faith-based, family film as a country preacher named Reece Wade.  Beginning in the 1930s (which is filmed in black and white) the story explores the premise of what if Elvis Presley's twin brother who was stillborn, actually lived and was adopted by another family.
 
Preacher Wade tells his small congregation that he and his wife Louise (Ashley Judd) just suffered another miscarriage and wouldn't be able to have children in the future.  Standing at the back of the revival tent is William Hemsley (Brian Geraghty) an out-of-work new father of twin boys.  Unsure if he can provide for two babies, he persuades his wife to give up one of their boys to the Wades.  William makes them promise that they would never let the boy know that he was adopted, and the brothers grow up never aware that the other exists. 
 
Drexel Hemsley becomes a big rock and roll star and Ryan Wade (both played by talented Elvis impersonator, Blake Rayne - whose real name is Ryan Pelton) goes to college to study religion, but is torn by his love of singing on stage.  He performs at local honky-tonks where he sings and dresses like his idol, Drexel.  He has a small following of fans and continues with his studies, but his love of  the stage is too strong and he ultimately quits college, which puts him at odds with his father.
 
Wade signs up for a radio contest for Hemsley impersonators. The real  Hemsley shows up unannounced and is blown away by the talent of Wade, who  wins the competition and is immediately signed by an agent to perform at fairs and concerts as a Hemsley impersonator called The Identical.
 
Director Dustin Marcellino uses original songs from his grandfather Jerry and father Yochanan, which is reminiscent of early Elvis.  Rayne is a very talented singer, and his looks, moves and voice evoke the King himself. 
 
Co-stars Joseph Pantoliano does a good job as Wade's auto mechanic boss, as is Seth Green as his drummer.  But it is  Liotta who gives a very moving performance.  He's a strict, but loving father, and when his son doesn't follow in his footsteps — something he's dreamed about his whole life — he still allows him to live his dream.
 
This film is not receiving good reviews on the whole, but I liked a lot about it.  I enjoyed the music, and even though it wasn't vintage Elvis, it still had the flavor of the era. I enjoyed seeing and hearing Rayne for the first time on screen (although I wish they had given him better wigs to wear) , and I especially liked seeing Liotta in a different role.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
The Identical  B   B-                     C+   B- 

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