'Bound by Flesh' reopens an almost forgotten chapter of showbiz

Peter RainerThe Christian Science Monitor

Leslie Zemeckis’s documentary “Bound by Flesh” is about the last century’s most famous conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, and the strange life they led.

Born to an unmarried barmaid in Brighton, England, who regarded their “ribbon of flesh” as a punishment from God, the girls were taken up by a pub owner, Mary Hilton, and turned into a sideshow attraction. At the height of their fame they earned as much as $5,000 a week, but inevitably the tide turned and they ended up on the burlesque circuit.

Zemeckis recycles too much of the same footage, but the film reopens an almost forgotten chapter in the slacker reaches of showbiz. (The 1997 Broadway musical “Side Show” is loosely based on the sisters’ lives.) I found it immensely touching that these women found it in themselves to keep plugging away. Despite everything, they ended their days with a measure of peace and happiness. Grade: B+ (This film is not rated.)