Skip to main content
  1. AXS Entertainment
  2. Arts & Entertainment
  3. Movies

Review - The Double

See also

Writer/director Richard Ayoade follows up his enjoyable debut feature Submarine with darker, and deeply impressive The Double.

The movie is inspired by a Dostoevsky novella in which a mundane government employee begins a downward spiral upon discovering a doppelganger. Jesse Eisenberg plays both parts, the insecure Simon James and the confident James Simon. It’s the former that Ayoade holds at center-stage. Simon is a melancholy fellow and the kind person you could meet a dozen times and not remember a single detail about. He is a smart, consistent worker at his office, where he writes various algorithms and turns big clunky nobs.

The settings undeniably resemble Terry Gilliam’s beloved Brazil, with its uni-culture and ever-present bureaucracy. The Double has a different tone though, spending more time in the morose nature of its lead character. Ayoade presents Simon as more than a nice, unsure man trying to find himself. Simon is, well not a creep, but certainly creepy. He is a voyeur, watching his neighbor through a telescope, including Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), a co-worker he is smitten by, despite knowing very little about her. He longs to live a better, happier life, even stating that he knows how to do so, but is emotionally unable to make the maneuvers to improve his place in life, unlike James Simon.

One of the intriguing twists on the doppelganger tales Ayoade runs with is that while two identical men exist in this society, even working at the same place, nobody else notices. This allows for various scenes where the disparate nature of the Eisenbergs comes to the forefront in peculiar ways. Where one can’t even get a simple Coke from a waitress, the other, through shear force of personality, receives his request of bacon and eggs, despite the restaurants policy of serving such items only for breakfast.

Eisenberg is terrific in both parts, each mirroring his perceived acting styles. James is blathering and all over himself. At one point he is told by his other-half to seductively lick his lips towards Hannah, with the express comment not to make himself look like a lizard while doing so; the outcome is a supremely funny failure. The successful secondary figure is more akin to Eisenberg's recent turns as the smooth-talker, able to work his words into making people do what he wants.

For all the perceived fingerprints that can be seen on The Double, which includes movies like The Apartment and Alphaville, Ayoade’s film isn’t some Frankenstein creature. The aura of sadness permeates every frame, molding it into a unified piece. It's aided by a melodic, strange score by Andrew Hewitt and consistently haunting visuals via Erik Wilson, one of cinema’s great unsung cinematographers. Under it all is a comedic tone that is pitch black, including a wise-cracking pair of cops who work the suicide beat, which is apparently surprisingly busy.

That 2014 has given us to doppelganger films is strange. That they both are compelling in drastically unique ways is a treat.

The Double is now available on various VOD formats.


Today's top buzz...

  • La Toya Jackson
    La Toya Jackson hits the club in music video for 'Feels Like Love'
    Music Buzz
  • Kliff Kingsbury
    Italy's Vincenzo Nibali wins the 2014 Tour de France
    Today's Buzz
  • Johnny Manziel
    Here's why there is no need for Jonny Manziel to apologize for his offseason partying
    NFL Buzz
  • Guys and Dolls
    Guys and Dolls at the PACE Center: Community theater at it's finest
    15 Photos
  • Cheap Trick
    Cheap Trick brings an explosive set of hits to Phoenix on their U.S. tour
    20 Photos
  • Most Wanted Man
    'A Most Wanted Man' shows Phillip Seymour Hoffman at his best
    14 Photos