Movie Review: Echoes

Every year on their birthday since they were children, identical twins Gina and Leni (Michelle Monaghan) have switched lives. Simply by restyling their hair, adding or removing a little eyeliner, and altering their speech patterns, they’ve successfully hidden this deception from family, friends, and, now, even their husbands. 

Stretched over seven episodes, with a number of distracting subplots, Echoes over-complicates its initially intriguing premise. This mystery thriller is preoccupied with secrets both past and present, including but not limited to a church fire that caused the death of an unknown man and the hidden financial irregularities connected to the theft of a horse.

Much is revealed about those and other mysteries, but what’s never fully addressed or even adequately questioned is the mental state of the show’s twin protagonists. And there are only hints at the toll that their years-long charade brings to bear on their lives and those around them. If Gina and Leni have been getting away with switching lives every 12 months for this long,  that proves much more rife for examination than the show’s other mini-mysteries. 

But both the writers and performers appear incapable of such furtive inquiry. Monaghan’s performance is largely limited to expressions of shock or surprise, while Leni’s husband, Jack (Matt Bomer), is written as something of a lovable victim who doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on around him. The town’s sheriff (Karen Robinson) feels lifted from another show entirely: Her almost stealth-like appearances just as something has happened— or is about to—becomes a peculiar, if amusing, gimmick, and her dialogue, in which she knowingly toys with her suspected prey, is more akin to what you’d expect to hear in a more traditionally styled crime drama. One half expects her to turn to the camera and wink at the audience.

As Echoes winds toward its conclusion, the sisters’ self-inflicted plight begins to feel like mere window dressing. More tightly woven episodes that homed in more precisely on the mystery surrounding the twins’ identities might have provided a clarity of purpose or at least a chance to explore the deeper, potentially darker reasons behind Gina and Leni’s deception.

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