What’s It About? Heavily influenced by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, The Double follows lead character Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) as he’s driven to near insanity when a confident and ambitious doppelganger enters his life.
For every nervous stutter and cowering submission Simon has, the new double has confidence, charm and authority in abundance. But it’s when his double starts to take over Simon’s life, his home, his work and his love interest that you’re taken on a tense journey as Simon spirals into madness. These film, essentially about two halves of the same person, tells the story of identity and existence, and asks who are you after all if your colleagues and friends don’t recognise you?
Verdict: This is classic Richard Ayoade territory: a surreal, alternate, sepia-toned world of eccentric characters and suspense with wonderful performances by the leads Mia Wasikowska and Jesse Eisenberg.
There’s something so familiar about the block of flats where Simon lives and his monotonous nine-to-five job, yet Ayoade has created a world apart from our existence without over using score or songs; in fact, there is a distinct lack of sync in the film, instead it’s carried by the brilliant characters and sets.
And the arrival of Simon’s supernatural doppelganger is delivered in a deadpan, almost nonchalant way, so much so that people don’t initially make the connection between these identical-looking men, and when they do, even more frighteningly, they don’t seem to care.
There’s horror and suspense in The Double yet it’s also incredibly funny. There’s no arguing Ayoade’s forte is surreal comedy and he’s struck a beautiful balance. Sometimes the most frightening scenes for the protagonist are the most amusing to the audience, and this is a masterstroke by the director.
Playing two extremes of one character, Eisenberg’s performances are wonderful. Mia Wasikowska as the love interest Hannah is sensational, playing a polite but vindictive part of the central love triangle. Paddy Considine’s cameo as a TV sci-fi hero is wonderful; this is Ayoade’s version of Twin Peaks’ fictional soap opera Invitation To Love and unsurprisingly it has a very strong Garth Marenghi feel to it. Other cameos include Chris Morris, Noah Taylor, Chris O’Dowd, Yasmin Paige, Craig Roberts, and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.
All in all, The Double provides a brilliant balance between the serious, the funny and the absurd, and gives plenty of food for thought about perception and existence.
Final Words: A 19th-century Russian exploration of the human condition re-imagined for uber-cool, arthouse youth who are the Beat generation of today. With an abundance of humour, The Double makes you realise that just because you think, doesn’t necessarily mean you are.
The Double screened as part of the London Film Festival and is out in UK cinemas on 4 April 2014.