Dir. Richard Ayoade
Written by: Fyodor Dostoevsky (Novella), Richard Ayoade, and Avi Korine
Exec. Prod: Michael Caine, Graeme Cox, Tessa Ross, Natascha Warton, and Nigel Williams
DOP: Erik Wilson
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Yasmin Paige
Running time: 93 minutes
If you’re a Luis Bunuel fan, a Jean Luc Godard fan, a David Lynch fan, or a Wes Andersen fan, a fan of love, a fan of searching, a fan of the weird, strange, and the humorous, The Double might be for you. Adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, director Richard Ayoade (Submarine, The Watch) sets to make a film dealing with the self, reality, falling in love and the painful yet interesting time when you’re lonely. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Simon James, a clerk living in mundanity and invisibility. He’s worked at his job for 7 years and no one really knows who he is–not even the only security guard who passes everyone into the building. He has to fill out a guest form. He is known by the copy center employees, one, Hannah, who he is in love with, as that creepy guy who only makes one copy every time. After Simon witnesses the suicide of a neighbor while watching Hannah across the way through a telescope (in his never changing work clothes) and after the cops mark him as a “probable” jumper himself, you begin to see the hilarious passivity that is his life. The thing that situates this film in the likes of directors mentioned up top is the beautiful way that editing and performance coincide in this nightmarish, industrial looking place where it seems anything can just happen, to you. Whenever Simon makes an effort to do something (talk to Hannah, paying his mother’s care home bills, attempting to prove his identity to his co-workers) something always stops him. The elevator door closes on him as he’s talking, he’s thrown out of a mandatory company party, someone interrupts him, or does not think twice about him. Depressing maybe, although it adds to the humor. And it only gets funnier when Simon meets his new co-worker: James Simon, an exact double of him. James is everything Simon is not. Confident, likeable, smart, laid back, and energetic. James begins to hang out with Simon but quickly starts to become even more unnoticed, overshadowed by other self. The Double is known as one of the first existentialist novels, and Ayoade does a wonderful job of balancing philosophy and the sometimes comedic nature of passivity, with crisp editing and all around good casting (especially of Eisenberg who has to play two completely different characters). It is one of those films that’s good because of everything working in the film. From performance, to directing, to the use light, to the clothes that also add to the dismal nature of the characters, to a sharp script. It almost feels collaborative, like a film should be. It’s less of a mind boggle and less loud than a movie like Fight Club, that also deals with existentialsm’s core value: freedom obtained through making choices for yourself. With a subtle approach, the film deals with the pitfalls of complacency and loneliness we all seem to suffer from and the fact that we are not the only ones.
by Jordon Briggs