In the early 1970s, at the dawn of punk, Tom and Barry Howe were conjoined twins attached at the chest, living in a remote, seaside corner of the UK. One day, a seedy impresario type came along and, seeing an opportunity, more or less bought them from their father (who in turn hoped he’d secured a future for his unusual sons). Tom and Barry were talented young men but they didn’t know much about music, so the impresario holed them up in a country estate with musicians, handlers, and hangers-on, and gave them a crash course in Rock Star 101. We witness this now through the lens of a filmmaker hired then to document the process. We watch as the twins—after careful grooming—lead their band, The Bang Bang, to a place in punk rock legend. But this was the 1970s. This was punk. Tragedy was never far behind the success. In the end, all that’s left is the music, the footage, and the memories.
None of it really happened of course, but that’s the story at the heart of this (mock) rock-doc dream. And though the film is swathed in hazy atmosphere, it feels more than plausible, and actually manages to generate the same sort of music geek thrills you get from real behind-the-scenes footage of your favorite classic bands. But even better is the film’s second level, which immerses us in the odd, symbiotic confidences and communications between twins. The connections the Howes share as conjoined brothers is alien to most of us, and the looks they give one another, the intimacy, the deep grudges, and the dynamics of dominance and submission add an eerie dimension that sets this one apart and plants it firmly in the realm of Weirdsville. Oh, and the music is great. So if you like your curious & creepy with a long, tall glass of rock & roll, Brothers of the Head should do a fine job of slaking your bizarro thirst.