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on 14 April 2017
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.
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on 1 November 2017
bought as present for relative
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on 1 May 2016
Trying to be too clever and missing the reason in the end. Was waiting for a big "oh that's why" but unfortunately nothing. On the thought provoking level- pretty simple...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 November 2016
British actor-filmmaker Richard Ayoade’s 2013 follow-up to the quirky comedy Submarine has a higher level of ambition and, indeed, greater literary heritage, The Double being a rather loose adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name. For me, it’s certainly an intriguing, if not altogether successful, watch – a dystopian view of social alienation and identity crisis, redolent of influences, from Orwell’s 1984 through to atmosphere-wise, (most obviously for me) Lynch’s Eraserhead and featuring something of an ‘all-star’ (mainly British) cast, central to which is the film’s romantic (Hollywood) pairing of Jesse Eisenberg’s dual role of Simon James/James Simon and Mia Wasikowska’s Hannah. The film’s predominantly serious, portentous mood is reflected in its unbroken oppressive, (visual) darkness, delivered via Erik Wilson’s impressive cinematography and an alternately ominous (industrial) and poignant score by Andrew Hewitt.

The film’s mix of quirky, surreal characterisation and humour will certainly not be to everyone’s taste, but even though Ayoade (and co-writer Avi Korine’s) plot, such as it is, is fairly predictable, as Simon’s position in his mundane (unidentified) office job and his romantic intentions towards Hannah are usurped by his doppelganger, James, materialising on the scene, the film-makers create enough intrigue and feeling for their characters to keep this viewer engaged. I did wonder what someone like Martin Freeman may have made of Ayoade’s titular role, but Eisenberg does a good job here, alternating convincingly between the two characters’ nervous paranoia and calm self-confidence (the latter something of a return to his Zuckerberg persona in The Social Network). Wasikowska is also good, as is Hollywood veteran Wallace Shawn as the ‘office’s’ domineering boss, Mr Papadopoulos, whilst there are cameos for the likes of James Fox, Chris Morris, an hilarious one for Chris O’Dowd as a nurse, and for Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige, Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins and Paddy Considine (the latter quintet all having appeared in Submarine).

Ayoade conjures up the film’s living nightmare ambience very evocatively, everything seemingly unattainable for Simon, with nice motifs such as closing doors, flickering lights, the film’s all-pervasive background industrial hum and, latterly, the morphing between the Simon-James personas. As well as Lynch, for me the film also, at times, conjures up the aura of Lang (Metropolis) and Polanski (The Tenant) - its many influences showing just how much of a film aficionado Ayoade is. It’s certainly not a flawless film, but still appeals on the basis of its relative originality when compared with most 'mainstream’ cinema options these days.
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on 30 November 2016
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.
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on 5 April 2015
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...

Very nice film...Loved it...
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on 3 July 2016
trying way too hard
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on 1 August 2014
The idea of meeting your own doppelgänger or clone has been explored in movies many times before, one of the most current being the excellent thriller "Enemy" from earlier this year. But that's certainly not the first time that the concept has been delved into with some of the more popular examples being 1988's "Dead Ringers" and the Oscar-winning "Adaptation" from 2002. Each film that has touched on the subject manages to be completely different from one another, and they all seem to have their own agendas. But a new flick that may be a bit harder to figure out is Richard Ayoade's darkly-funny "The Double".

Set in what appears to be the near future, it follows a lonely government clerk named Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) whose unpleasant life is made worse by the arrival of a new co-worker who is both his exact physical double and his opposite in personality. Much more confident and charismatic, he begins to take advantage of Simon and slowly take control of his life.

With an astounding performance from Eisenberg playing both of the contrasting characters (his scenes primarily consisting of lengthy monologues) the film has a sort of Hitchcockian feel to it. The cinematography is breathtaking and its style is well-refined making it easy to get yourself lost in it. Plus, due to the great supporting cast - Craig Roberts, Chris O'Dowd, and Wallace Shawn - it succeeds in providing subtly comic moments throughout.

Challenging your perception of other people and making you think deeply about what makes you unique, it's an absorbing and ultimately satisfying movie experience. It may not be for everyone, but I found "The Double" to be a nice surprise and a break from the normal.
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on 2 October 2014
I was watching The Double with my Daughter, who very soon announced that: this may have worked very well in the head of the director, but... And then she went for coffee, saying: don't stop the film, while I am in the kitchen. I dare say she changed her tune when she came back.

The film declares to be based on a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Double, from 1846.
This novel is generally seen as the first novel with a psychological doppelganger.
Romanticism was fading, and gradually replaced by other -isms, but the motif of the doppelganger lived on. No doubt that Dostoyevsky, like so many other writers, was inspired by Jean Paul and E T A Hoffmann, both prime movers in German Romanticism, and developers of the motif of the doppelganger, the mirror motif, and the narcissos motif.

The psychological doppelganger, as a rule of thumb, is only ever seen/perceived by the poor, mentally tortured protagonist. This protagonist is more often than not a young person who is in the process of growing up.
BUT, if you are in a crisis, whatever your age, you may qualify to get a doppelganger, too!!!

Ayoade's The Double may have been released ten years' or so, before it's actual time.
I believe it will grow on me, and other filmfanciers, given time. It already has.
Watching it was a bit like reading Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales for the first time when you are fourteen years old. You are fascinated, and you feel, that there is more to it than literally meets the eye. Only later, when you have become well-read, and more grown-up, do you realize that recognizing the many mythological, religious, and literary references add to the enjoyment of the text.
My clever Daughter, who at first showed some scepticism, helped me with some of the references in The Double to other films: Japanese Manga, particularly "Perfect Blue", which I immediately watched: A mesmerizing(!) doppelganger film.
A homage to the film "Brazil" from 1985 is evident. ( I suppose, that this reference is the reason why many reviewers have brought The Double [DVD] [2014]Kafka into the equation).
Reference to expressionist films from the 1920'ties, and many references to literary Romanticism.
A lot more may be said about this interesting film, and I may do so at a later time.

Yours, truly, Bodil Marie/Vaasemaas - Clicking her Clever Clogs.
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on 27 May 2014
Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is a rather pathetic introvert. He is "lonely, lost, and invisible" living in a fictional society that could pass for a set on "Eraser Head." Hanna (Mia Wasikowska) works at the same place as Simon and has similar issues of identity. Then along comes James Simon, an individual who looks identical to Simon James except he has personality. He pole vaults to the top of the corporation without knowing what they do.

The film is clearly symbolic and metaphorical, but of what, I am uncertain. One line from the film "giving faceless people immortality" almost seems like a reference to Internet social media such as Facebook. The film is based on a Russian novella by the same name. I have stopped reading Russian novels because there is so much packed into them, they make my head explode.

The novella itself doesn't offer an explanation, although three have been offered by critics:

1) Main character is insane

2) Author is insane

3)'The human will in its search for total freedom of expression becomes a self-destructive impulse.’"

The film was well done as it captured a mood and allowed the viewer to assign their own significance to it. However, this is clearly not a film for everyone. Those who don't like films with massive amounts of symbolism to the point the linear plot doesn't make any sense, need to avoid this one. Dostoyevsky fans are welcomed.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. No sex or nudity 3 1/2 stars
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