The fascination of our society, and really that of the world, with Elvis Presley is unequaled by any other celebrity.
The fascination of our society, and really that of the world, with Elvis Presley is unequaled by any other celebrity. Even decades after his passing people still reference, talk about, write about, and impersonate him. His songs are timeless and there is no doubt that the King of Rock and Roll changed the face of music. But what if there was a story that had never been told? In the new fictional drama THE IDENTICAL we get a highly entertaining look at a unique “what if?”. Though the names have been changed there is no denying what legendary icon the film is referring to.
Reece Wade (Ray Liotta) is a traveling evangelist in the depression era south. He and his wife Louise (Ashley Judd) have been unable to have children so when a poor, young, couple offer them the chance to raise one of their identical twin boys as their own; they do so. Ryan Wade (Blake Rayne) grows up never knowing of his brother. He is very loved by the Wade family but always feels that he is a bit different. His father wants nothing more than for Ryan to follow his footsteps into the ministry. But Ryan has a longing to play music. When Drexel Hemsley (Blake Rayne) becomes the most famous rock star of the 50’s there is no denying the resemblance between him and Ryan Wade. But how long before the real reason is made known?
Although Elvis is never mentioned nor is his music ever used in the film it is obvious who the movie is basing its story on. It doesn’t help (or maybe it does) that Blake Rayne is the spitting image of the young Mr. Presley. Rayne has spent the last several years making a living as an Elvis impersonator. Picking him for the role was just good sense. But thankfully the film isn’t a campy depiction of the King but a very serious and heartwarming drama about a young man trying to find his true calling. Ryan is torn between following his heart and possibly breaking his father’s or doing something that he has no passion for.
The film uses lots of original music to separate itself and let the story focus on Wade. The acting by newcomer Rayne is pretty solid. Even in scenes going toe to toe with Liotta he holds his own and never seems intimidated. Of course he is the most comfortable on stage and behind the mic. It was also refreshing to see Liotta play a softer, kinder character. Reece Wade is a sincere follower of God but also a very strong and devout man. Ray is able to balance these perfectly. There are quite a few touching moments as father and son work out their differences. The script could have gone many varying degrees but it kept it a simple story of a family and a man finding his identity. The backdrop they use just happens to resemble the most recognizable face in music history.
THE IDENTICAL is rated PG for thematic material and smoking. Again this was a smart move. It could have been peppered with sophomoric jokes and humor or taken directions that would have diluted the story and heart of the movie. Instead you get a solid, family friendly, entertaining film that everyone will enjoy. I give it 4.5 out of 5 hip shakes. It is original, heartwarming, touching and memorable. I am sure Elvis would have approved.
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