IMDB Score – 7.1
Rotten Tomato Score – 82%
Directed By – Richard Ayoade
Starring – Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Cathy Moriarty, Chris O’Dowd, and Paddy Considine
A clerk in a government agency finds his unenviable life takes a turn for the horrific with the arrival of a new co-worker who is both his exact physical double and his opposite – confident, charismatic and seductive with women.
I decided, for the first time since moving to Fort Lee, NJ, to head into the city and see a movie. I tried picking a theater where I could see a double feature and settled on seeing “The Double” and Only Lovers Left Alive” at the Landmark Sunshine on East Houston street. I figured that since I live next to the most famous city in the world that just so happens to have a billion theaters showing films that show nowhere else around me, it might be a good idea to start venturing in and taking advantage. First up is “The Double”, directed by the extremely talented British quirk, Richard Ayoade.
His first film, “Submarine” is one that I have actually seen but remember nothing of. I must have been outside my head that day because even though I have tried, I can’t remember a single thing from that film. I stated he is talented because of his work on “The IT Crowd” and the fact that he was the only entertaining thing about “The Watch”. I’ve also heard him in a bunch of interviews and he seems like a very intelligent and unique person. All those qualities showed up in “The Double:, an adaption of a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel of the same. Jesse Eisenberg, who was brilliantly cast for this role, plays Simon, an employee at a data processing firm who can’t seem to catch a break or the recognition from his peers. In walks James, an identical looking/dressing Simon who is everything Simon is not, charismatic, funny, charming, and outgoing. He picks up women as he pleases and he wins the smiles of everyone he encounters. I remembered seeing the trailer when it was released and thinking that the film was going to be a trip because I had no idea what was going on. Having seen the film I’m still not quite sure. It’s going to take a second viewing to understand fully what happened but one thing the film was…impressive.
Besides the obvious science fiction elements, for example the fact that the film takes place in an obvious dystopian world not of our own, the film is a comedy. It’s a quick draw of wit around every corner and delivered perfectly by Eisenberg who secured an Oscar nomination for playing a character who is fast talking and witty. Ayoade did his homework. Eisenberg, who plays both main characters, played them both wonderfully. Simon is shy, neurotic, and miserable whereas James is outgoing, engaging, and seems to be the favorite person of every single employee and person in the city. Nobody mentions the fact that they both loo exactly alike which is the game played on the viewer. I was constantly trying to understand why nobody seemed to notice the similarity and why bad things continually seemed to follow Simon around. It’s only as the movie progresses that we start to accept the vagueness of the other characters and start to focus in on the similarities of James and Simon. The ending of the film was a bit disappointing as we are led to believe the mystery behind the two is a conclusion that we’ve seen in film countless times but for what the ending lacks in originality, the rest of the film thrives in being a type of comedy I’ve never seen before.
Oh, and the cameos by Paddy Considine and Chris O’Dowd were fucking hilarious.
The film showed just how talented Ayoade is as a young filmmaker and I’m going to be looking forward ti what he does next because if it was anywhere as unique as “The Double” then he has a bright future ahead of him.
Suggested Viewing – Brazil, 1984, Enemy, Dark City,