Friday, 28 March 2014

The Double - review

Jesse Eisenberg takes notes from his Social Network nemeses The Winklevii as he plays Simon James and his doppelgänger James Simon in Richard Ayoade's adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Double.

Simon is shy, awkward, quiet and timid. He works in a Brazil-esque office and goes through life unnoticed by his colleagues and the girl who lives opposite him who he has a crush on.

One day at work, Simon is introduced to a new employee James Simon who looks exactly like him. James is everything that Simon is not; confident, smooth, ambitious. After an initial curiosity and friendship, Simon slowly loses his mind as he believes James to be taking over his life.

The film's time period and setting is deliberately ambiguous (could be set in Europe or US) and the how and why of the doppelganger's appearance are equally unknown.

This generates an ever-increasing sense of paranoia and a genuine Polanski vibe with echoes of Repulsion and The Tenant.

Is James really a doppelgänger? Does he even exist? Are all the other employees playing an elaborate game on Simon?

Ayoade successfully recreated a French New Wave style with his directorial debut Submarine and with The Double evokes the feeling of Orwell, Kafka and Lynch, supported by terrific production design and a soundtrack by Andrew Hewitt that incorporates the environment with the sounds of typewriters, computers, etc.

A poster-friendly soundbite would be "It's Polanski's The Tenant meets Fight Club" and like the film's leading man (or men), The Double will stand up to multiple viewings.

4 stars

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