Shared Lives – A Review of ‘Indivisible ’

“I had this weird dream. It felt like I sinned. I prayed so I’d feel better.”

Conjoined twins Daisy (Marianna Fontanaand Viola (Angela Fontana) financially support their family by singing at local events in their Naples suburbs. Their father Peppe  (Massimiliano Rossi) squirrels away their earnings in a bank account to which he promises they’ll one day have access. They’re content with being local celebrities though at times Daisy yearns for more, particularly when she catches the eye of seedy music manager Marco Ferreri (Gaetano Bruno). After a doctor offers to separate the pair, something they never considered, their lives and the lives of other parents are irrevocably altered.

Indivisible offers a wholly unique coming-of-age arc anchored by emotionally potent debut performances from Marianna and Angela Fontana. You cannot help marveling at their raw and honest talents. Wide-eyed and naive, the characters are not without their wits. They’re as different as they are similar. Daisy is much more earnest and eager to seek experiences the world has to offer while Viola is more reserved and pious, having bought into much of what her father and the local priest have imposed on the sisters. When the pair fights, it’s brutal due to the permanent intimacy they share. Each has their own fraught struggles, but are also forced to contend with the other’s as well. The dynamic is as harrowing as their evolving journey over the course of the film.

As the twins set out to be separated, their parents’ marriage crumbles. Peppe hasn’t been honest with the family about how he’s handled their earnings. Righteous in his belief the money is his to do as he sees fit, he drives a wedge between himself and his daughters, as well as his wife Titti (Antonia Truppo). Both Peppe and Titti love their daughters, but are complicit in the exploitation of the girls for profit. The betrayal is two-fold as Daisy and Viola learn they could have been separated with little difficulty years prior as well as the knowledge the money they counted on is gone. The shattering of trust in your parents is a harsh lesson from which families cannot always recover. 

Director Edoardo De Angelis has crafted a truly powerful family drama (with a screenplay he co-wrote with Barbara Petronio and Nicola Guaglianone, who is credited for the story). At times dreamlike and hypnotic, the film remains grounded in stark emotions. It makes you want to reach out and hold a loved one at one moment and question their intentions in the next. More importantly, it begs you to question your own intentions and if your decisions are serving your family or yourself more. Though ultimately a hopeful film, I cannot shake a sense of sadness from the experience. It lingers, inescapable, however lovely.

Indivisible, which was an  Official Selection at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, opens in Los Angeles today.