The USA Network specializes in unapologetically trashy melodramas, but this one doesn’t need to apologize. Lies of the Twins is sinister, effective, and helped by an unusually lofty pedigree: It’s based on a psychological suspense novel by Joyce Carol Oates, directed by Tim Hunter (River’s Edge), and classily cast. Isabella Rossellini plays Rachel Marks, a fashion model who enters therapy and quickly falls in love with her psychiatrist, Jonathan McEwan (Avalon’s Aidan Quinn), a kind, solicitous man who stops treating her as soon as he realizes that he’s smitten too. The complicating factor: Jonathan’s identical twin, James, a fellow psychiatrist who lacks his brother’s ethics and compassion but makes up for it in silken menace and an eagerness to pursue the kind of sick emotional and sexual rivalry that only an identical twin and a psychiatrist could pull off.
Oates’ novel, which she wrote using the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, was called Lives of the Twins, and there’s more missing from this adaptation than the v. The movie explains Jonathan and James’ complicated motives rather casually; after hearing about one of their creepier and more entangled stunts, Rachel’s best friend (played by Iman) simply shrugs and says, ”Men!” That’s right: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live with their evil twins. But Lies of the Twins offers some teasing intricacies of its own: several surprises, one startling sex scene, and a juicy ending that goes further than the novel’s. The result is a movie that aims slightly above USA’s gimmicky, cheap-thrills spirit, and hits its mark. B-