Monday, 18 August 2014

The Double

Just released on Blu-ray and DVD is the pitch black comedy film ‘The Double’. Based on the book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, produced by Alcove Entertainment and directed by Richard Ayoade (Dean Learner, Moss from the IT Crowd) It’s about a man named Simon James, played by Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network, Zombieland) who, after a bit of a difficult life so far, finds everything is being taken from him by a doppelgänger.

Simon is introduced to us via a plot defining moment of schadenfreude, when he is gets off a train and manages to get his briefcase caught in the door. As he tries to wrench it free the handle breaks off entirely and satisfyingly to someone who gets pleasure from other peoples misfortune, leaving Simon to sign himself in to work without his ID badge, which was in his briefcase. He is an unassuming man with a lot of fabulous ideas on how the business could be improved, but instead of listening his boss assigns him the role of tutoring his daughter Melanie, played by Yasmin Paige. Now everyone talks to Simon in a very pleasant way, not disarmingly pleasant like a good con man, nor terrifyingly pleasant like a Nazi officer who is going to check your basement. They treat Simon with the kind of pleasantness you would treat an ageing relative with if you were about to put them into an old folks home because you were starting to think that they were a bit in the way. Simon’s inability to socially integrate himself means he basically spies on his neighbour Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) that he has a thing for.

Enter James. He is a man who looks exactly like Simon but is living his life entirely better than he is, proving that confidence and success has a lot more to do with your non-verbal communication than with your verbal. After some time together, during which James uses Simon to further his own career and also has sex with every woman he meets, Simon starts to have a bit of a nervous breakdown. So that’s the essence of the energy and pulse of the film.

The real draw of this film, that makes it one of the best I’ve seen in a while, is the surreal but brilliant choice in direction and cinematography. You aren’t sure if what you’re seeing is happening chronologically, whether it’s ‘actually’ happening or whether it’s a dream. You don’t trust anything that’s going on and it really makes you pay attention. It deserves a second viewing much akin to other films like Donnie Darko, The Matrix and Fight Club, which left you questioning everything you just and scraping your brain off the ground to thumb it back in your earhole. Though it’s mental, surreal and very stylistic so it may not be for all, I truly enjoyed this film.

It gets a 4/5.


Dave Roberts

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