Simon is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. He feels powerless to change any of these things. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simons exact physical double and his opposite - confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simons horror, James slowly starts taking over his life.
Richard Ayoade’s The Double (2013) has a nightmarish tang, but doesn’t set out to frighten, it substitutes creaky jump-scares, for utter, stupendous style.
Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) lives in a bureaucratic state, working in the bowels of a government office. Lonely, he daydreams about Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) and makes any excuse to contact her. One day, a new employee arrive, and Simon notices something remarkable about him, he’s identical to Simon in appearance. Yet, different in personality. Will Simon be consumed by his double James (Jesse Eisenberg)?
Some opinions may say that story has been sacrificed for style, and I agree. Yet this is a bold move by Ayoade and editors Chris Dickens and Nick Fenton. The tale of the double, the doppelgänger, the lookalike, the evil self, has been used many times in literature and film, so we don’t need spoon feeding with every plot point. Instead, the director and editors made a conscious decision to focus on style.
And style dazzles in every scene. It’s the atmospheric lighting, showing shadows and brightness in equal expressionistic quantities; it’s the metallic and dismal set design by Barbara Herman Skelding resembling theatre sets, reminding me of Michael Radford’s 1984 (1984) or even in a strange sense Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2003); its violent string instruments and deep piano pinging, created by Andrew Hewitt, creating a nervous audience, it’s all these things that give The Double its style.
The film is so stylish that we forget the exceptional special effects showing Eisenberg playing two different characters consuming the same screen. Like Brian Helgeland’s Legend (2015), which does the same, the effects are so amazing that we believe we’re watching two different actors.
The Double is made by experts in their respective fields. It is well worth a watch to experience exceptional stylistic choices.
This film is made by a bunch of people who know exactly what they are doing. Every detail is taken care of. It feels like it was made for a reason and with a love of the craft. Anyone who appreciates a great film with attention to detail should watch this. It's somehow a combination of the best Terry Gilliam, Woody Allen, Michel Gondry, European/ New York, unknown city life trapped in a depressed office/ factory/apartment building with the feeling of a well written claustrophic play that somehow manages to be comedically uplifting when needed. In my opinion that's a hard thing to pull off. It's quite unique and particular. It has a sense of urgency about it which along with the random music makes it a bizarre mismatched pace of welcome surprises. It is impressively stylised, visually blunt with its editing in parts and overall feels like a new generation of film. Anyone who is self analytical or even questions some of the annoying "whys" in this world would appreciate this film. Anyone who questions the system or questions their own sanity. Anyone who has worked hard to achieve things and also the dreamers who dream of a better "what if " world would enjoy it. It can be watched completely as a whole or even in segments for those with a short attention span . The characterisation is entertaining and the actors are perfectly balanced between predictable and obscure. You don't necessarily have to understand this film in totality. You can just appreciate it for what it is. It's intelligent without being too obviously intellectual and you don't quite know what to expect, right to the end. More than anything it just makes me happy to know that films like this get made. They don't really get the acclaim they deserve but they make a difference to the world because they are undeniably great cinema.
Some may call it slow but others may call it thoughtful...It's one of the films you love or hate...Donnie Darko...2001...The Machinist...etc...etc...
Meeting your double is weird enough but when your double is in all ways opposite to you then it's even weirder...and scarier...The double can be the guy or gal we wanna be or the guy or gal we would hate to be...Or a bit of both!
If you want to watch a film that examines the human condition in a funny (but not hilarious) a dark (but not pitch black)...a romantic...(but not Hugh Grant) way then this is the film for you...