The Double Review
Reviewed by Jordan Smith.
Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska strike me as marmite actors. You either love them or hate them. I’ve always been a fan of Eisenberg myself and am glad to see him take on another interesting role after his last one that I found interesting in The Social Network. Wasikowska has never been a favourite of mine. She was dire in Alice in Wonderland, though the screenplay for that film couldn’t have helped. In this however she finally convinced me that she has some personality and that she can act; pretty well actually.
The Double is a 2013 independent ‘black-comedy’ film that is now doing to rounds in select theatres throughout the UK and the US. It’s directed by Richard Ayoade (I had no idea he directed films!) and written by Ayoade with Avi Korine. There are one or two funny moments within the film but I wouldn’t really call it a black comedy at all. It’s a bit too dark and dramatic to be called that.
The film centres on a lonely man called Simon James (Eisenberg) who is seen to be unremarkable in every way by everyone he knows; he’s almost completely invisible to his co-workers and anyone else he comes across. He likes a woman who he works with called Hannah (Wasikowska) but she also barely acknowledges his existence. One day they begin to connect a little after a man that neither of the really knew, who lives in their apartment complex, commits suicide. Feeling that things may get better, Simon enters work the next day to find that there’s a new employee who has just started. His name is James Simon and he looks exactly like Simon.
What then unfolds over the next hour or so is a very interesting, if slightly surreal, film about how Simon is driven almost into madness by the way that his doppelganger usurps his entire life. I say surreal because at first I thought this film was set in a particular time period, but it isn’t. This film seems to be set in a world that seems quite “steampunk” in its aesthetic. The style of the costumes and the dull look of the sets and lighting in the film make it look like it’s set in the fourties or the fifties. But then the TVs in the world play crazy looking science-fiction shows that look like they’re from the seventies or the eighties. And there’s also a photocopier that has a crazy blue florescent light. And video games that are like Pac-man. And there are computers that look like they’re from that period too. It’s a bit bizarre but it gives the film a very cool look.
The two leads of the film are very compelling in their roles. As I said earlier, Wasikowska has now convinced me that she can act and Eisenberg steals the show because of the two opposing roles that he has to play. Simon is very meek and unassertive and you generally feel quite sorry for the character, a very different part from when Eisenberg portrayed Mark Zuckerberg. James is more similar, but is much more aggressive and Eisenberg manages to portray him with an amount of menace that makes him seem sort of scary in a couple of scenes. The supporting cast are all great but the main parts of the film focus solidly on these three characters.
The writing is fantastic too and it manages to deal with the ideas of what it’s like for someone who feels lonely quite well, but that’s not really the focus of the film and it has been done better in other films. The directing is fantastic throughout and Ayoade has managed to give The Double a very interesting look what with the blend of styles from different decades. I also found myself looking at the cinematography much more than I usually do because the film just looks so interesting, which is saying something considering this films main colour used throughout is brown and variations thereof. I’m not entirely sure what it is but something about the look and the tone of the film just did something for me.
A great film if you’re looking for something more interesting to watch between your doses of blockbuster film goodness in these summer months.