The Double – Movie Review

After penning the wonderfully melancholic cult flick, Submarine, Richard Ayoade returns and is taking cues from his days as Moss in the IT Crowd with the doppleganger dark comedy, The Double. Carol Bowditch investigates:

Pairing up with Avi Korine (the surname is familiar as he is the brother of gritty film freak, Harmony) Ayoade has created a stirring and zany picture, adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name. The music and lighting were expertly executed in the first few setpieces while introducing Simon James’s (Jesse Eisenberg) beige existence, having me giddy with cinematic pleasure from the get-go.

Within the introductory scenes of The Double I was strangely reminded me of Nick Park’s work – namely with my childhood favourite, Wallace and Gromit, with those bulky grey ‘technology’ boxes covered in large coloured buttons that rendered awkward beeps and groans when prompted by Simon James as he goes about his duties in his nondescript role as a data entry employee.

The film continues with a surreal take on a romantic tale, Simon fancies the stunningly fresh and lively Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), who he seems to have organised his life around to observe. He catches glimpses of her at work as she photocopies on an archaic flashing machine, and spies into her apartment as she draws pictures in red ink, tears them up and sticks them to her fingers (she’s quirky, you see). A new employee, James Simon (Jesse Eisenberg), a charismatic, instantly likeable, womaniser, enters the workplace and Simon James’ lowly, invisible waddle through life becomes a little more difficult to compete with the man physically identical but starkly different to himself.

jesse-eisenberg-annoyed-by-his-doppelganger-in-the-doubleStylistically The Double is an absolute treat. Catching fragmented glimpses of Eisenberg through a mesh glass window, rendering a glitchy reflection of his profile is wonderful. As is the camp, Gondry-like scene which pictures Simon James skipping and primary coloured lights that shift with each skipping step as he is momentarily elated about buying a thoughful and romantic gift (but in hindsight, inappropriate) gift for Hannah.

For a film about suicide and emotional backstabbing, I was laughing throughout at the subtle, very English jokes. As in Simon James’ pitiful routines, like going to the same cafe each time, even though the service is terrible, just because he liked  the familiarity. Also, the scenes with Noah Taylor were a little gimmicky, with him playing up his familiar ‘Australian lazy larrikin’ character, but hilarious nonetheless (who doesn’t love Noah Taylor?).

Kudos for Eisenberg for playing the double role of Simon/James with such expertise. The duality of the characters’ personas were so well contrasted by the one actor. The deep anxiety-inducing graveyard scene where the pair come together as a whole person (of sorts) is the pivotal moment of the flick and really, really good cinema.

As indie films can often get hidden behind epic Hollywood pictures when released (much like how I watched Submarine years after it was released but I have managed to see all of the Spiderman’s on the big screen?), I really hope that this film gets the press it deserves and loads of people see this bizarre, fantastic piece of timeless dark-comedy. It’s my favourite film of the year so far.


The Double film review by Carol Bowditch.