Movie Review: ‘The Double’
The Double tells the story about lonely, shy and ignored loser Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) a pushover who suddenly finds himself worse than when he started as he now has to confront James (Jesse Eisenberg), a new coworker who looks just like him. Simon now has to prove his worth in his job and in his life as well as fight for the attentions of the woman of his dreams Hanna (Mia Wasikowska).
Apparently no one notices the similarities except when they’re switching roles to perform a task the other one can achieve more successfully. Simon does the work while James does the socializing. It can be viewed as the projections of what Simon ultimately wants to be, a crass but confident and charismatic womanizer who becomes popular and best buds with the higher ups the moment he sets foot in the industrially monotonous government workplace. It’s all practical at first with James teaching Simon a thing or two and taking care of their boss’ daughter Melanie (glad to have Yasmin Paige back from director Richard Ayoade’s first film Submarine) but once he starts to woo Hannah it all goes down a bleak hill for Simon.
The presence of James makes you asks questions that you know will not get answered, some things are just what they are. Why is there a double Simon and why isn’t nobody noticing? We just have to take it as what it is and try and read it as how the double in question represents our inner desires like telling our waitress to shut up and do her job without worrying about consequences and disregarding peoples feelings and later having the chance to sleep with her.
Set in an undefined time and place, a world of switches, beeps and boops and where the light is its own character, used only where it’s needed, with lots of flickers and flashes, interacting with dust, smoke and dashes of color and sudden splashes of neon as our main characters emote concerns and shock while we rarely hear nothing but silence, once in a while followed by grim piano key strokes and violins that give the scenes a sense of urgency. It’s a film noir set in color infused with themes of spiritual exploration and the search of identity true to Dostoyevsky’s novella (which the movie is based on). It’s particularly reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil due to it’s artistic style and the setting of a frustratingly bureaucratic society, the difference here is that the conflict resides in Simon’s inner struggles and doppelganger antagonist as opposed to fighting the whole system; in The Double, the system is just an obstacle to make things more difficult for our hero.
I truly enjoyed The Double, Terry Gilliam hasn’t been doing it for me as of late so in comes a worthy successor by the name of Richard Ayoade who much like Gilliam became a recognizable name in comedy with the IT Crowd but has now taken a dive into making peculiar films with a very unique visual style, maybe with a lot less fantastical flare but with a similar sense to explore the human condition through unconventional visuals, twisting word games and back and forts between idiosyncratic characters. This was the perfect movie for Eisenberg’s motor mouth to showcase what it can do. Imagine that scene in The Social Network times a hundred with that Terry Gilliam twist. It had my attention, the full amount. If you hunger for unique storytelling with interesting visual give The Double a taste.