THE DOUBLE (2014)

6 out of 10

Release Date: 4th April 2014

Director: Richard Ayoade (Submarine)

Cast: Jessie Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Cathy Moriarty, Yasmin Paige, Hobna Koldbrook-Smith, Phyllis Somerville, Chris Morris, Sally Hawkins, Craig Roberts, Jon Korkes, Rade Szerbedzija and James Fox with Chris O’Dowd and Paddy Considine

Writer: Richard Ayoade & Avi Kormine / Fyodor Doesteovsky

Trailer: THE DOUBLE

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To be proofread: I confess that I’ve never read the Russian novella The Double on which director Richard Ayoade‘s new film is based on. Nor did I know it was based on the book until the end credits either. So if anybody can tell me what’s happening in the last 20 minutes, please get in touch. Up until he point I was intellectually out-classed I loved every bit of this nightmarish movie. Recalling Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Alex Proyas’ Dark City and David Lynch’s Eraserhead, The Double is the stuff of bad dreams. It’s impeccably produced and directed. The sets are amazing, as are the cast and the overblown score is something else. The only fault I have with it is that it’s hard to follow near the end. Or is it just me. I felt like I was watching other confusing films like Synedoche New York or Primer. Am I alone?

Simon James (JESSE EISENBERG – ZOMBIELAND) works as a cog in a featureless office where it’s it his job to process data (I think). He is vastly under appreciated by his section leader Mr. Papadopoulos (WALLACE SHAWN – THE PRINCESS BRIDE). He is hopelessly in love with a colleague who lives opposite Hannah (MIA WASIKOWSKA – JANE EYRE) but he finds himself awkwardly at odds with her, unable to strike up meaningful conversation. Simon seems to be off-kilter with everything in this world. Inanimate objects that he comes into contact with seem to be conspiring against him. His best friend Harris (NOAH TAYLOR – FLIRTING) doesn’t even notice him. The only bright spots in his life are Hannah and a stupid late 70s style TV show about an interstellar PI played by Paddy Considine (HONOUR). One day a new guy is employed called James Simon who is Simon’s doppelgänger. The guy seems to be a mirror image of James. He’s good at everything, comfortable with ladies, and well liked by management specifically after he enlists James to help him look better by doing his tests. It’s not long before James begins to suspect that Simon is taking over his life piece by piece.

An escalating sense of paranoia ferries this film along to it’s conclusion. What begins as a mild affinity with our protagonist, slow begins to become something altogether different. I found myself willing James on to thwart his doppelgänger. Except he is defeated at every turn. Exits are slammed shut, solutions are brushed aside, the futility of his situation becomes quickly apparent. James’ so-called friends cannot even see any likeness between James and Simon. when Simon literally steals Hannah from under James nose a war of one up-manship begins but the proceedings become to vague to follow. At times I lost track of which Eisenberg I was watching. So nonsensical the whole story is. The dialogue is largely nonsensical and impenetrable and the whilst it’s funny, The Double left me cold. I loved the details like the howling wind, the fox barks and the strange alt-world in which The Double is situated. It’s recognisably the UK, but many of the characters speak with American, African or Australian accents. It’s like 1984 or Brazil without the spies. There’s even a mysterious upper management character, The Colonel (JAMES FOX – W/E)  that is glimpsed but never contacted (like in the two films just mentioned.) So it seems derivate but it still succeeds in the main by maintaining a voice of its own and it’s original enough to have much to recommend about it. It’s not as warm and funny as Richard Ayoade’s debut Submarine but I’m relieved that it wasn’t the same film all over again. This is a brave and interesting second movie for Ayoade. It’s cool too because he’s invited all five of Submarine‘s leads to return for small roles. Some of them are mere one-scene cameos but it’s good to see them.

6 out of 10 – Above average but it lacks the soul and warmth of Submarine. Also it disappeared up it’s own arse towards the end and lost this particular viewer. Fine performances and fans of the films that it neighbours will find much to treasure.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Jesse Eisenberg:  Now You See Me 2, Louder Than Bombs, Batman Vs. Superman, American Ultra, Rio 2 (voice), Night Moves, Now You See Me, To Rome With Love, 30 Minutes Or Less, Rio (voice), The Social Network, Holy Rollers, Zombieland, Adventureland, The Squid and The Whale, The Village, Roger Dodger
  • Mia Wasikowska: Alice In Wonderland 2, Crimson Peak, Madame Bovary (2014), Map To The Stars, Tracks (2014), Only Lovers Left Alive, Stoker, Lawless, Albert Nobbs, Jane Eyre (2011), Alice In Wonderland (2010), Defiance, Rogue, Suburban Mayhem
  • Wallace Shawn: Gossip Girl (TV), A Late Quartet, Toy Story 3 (voice), Furry Vengeance, Southland Tales, The Incredibles (voice), Melinda and Melinda, The Haunted Mansion, Duplex, Toy Story 2 (voice), Star Trek – Deep Space 9 (TV), My Favourite Martian, National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation, Toy Story (voice), Clueless, Canadian Bacon, Vanya On 42nd Street, Mrs Parker and The Vicious Circle, Meteor Man, Shadows and Fog, We’re No Angels, She’s Outta Control, The Moderns, The Princess Bride, Prick Up Your Ears, Radio Days, The Bostonians, My Dinner With Andre, All That Jazz, Manhattan
  • Noah Taylor: Lost In Kazhakstan, Predestination, The Edge of Tomorrow, Game of Thrones (TV),Lawless, Submarine, Red Dog, Red White and Blue, The New World, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005), The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Tomb Raider 2, Max, Vanilla Sky, Tomb Raider, Almost Famous, Simon Magus, Shine, The Nostradamus Kid, Secrets, Flirting, The Year My Voice Broke
  • Cathy Moriarty: The Bounty Hunter, Analyse That, Cop Land, Dream With Fishes, Foxfire (1996), Casper, Forget Paris, Another Stakeout, Matinee, The Mambo Kings, Soapdish, Kindergarten Cop, Neighbors, Raging Bull
  • Yasmin Paige: Submarine
  • Chris Morris: The IT Crowd (TV), Brass Eye (TV), The Day Today (TV)
  • Sally Hawkins: X+Y, Paddington, Godzilla (2014), Blue Jasmine, Great Expectations (2012)Never Let Me GoJane Eyre (2011), SubmarineMade In Dagenham, It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, An Education, Cassandra’s Dream, Happy Go Lucky, All Or Nothing,  Layer Cake,  Vera Drake
  • Craig Roberts: Kill Your Friends, Just Jim, Benny and Jolene, Bad Neighbours, Comes a Bright Day, Red Lights, Jane Eyre (2011), Submarine
  • Rade Szerbedzija: Tesla, The Legend of Hercules, Taken 2, In The Land of Blood and Honey, X-Men – First Class, Harry Potter – part 7, Quarantine, The Eye, 24 (TV), Shooter, The Fog (2005), EuroTrip, Snatch, Space Cowboys, Mission Impossible 2, Stigmata, Eyes Wide Shut, Mighty Joe Young, The Saint, Broken English (1995), Before The Rain
  • James Fox: Effie Gray, Cleanskin, W/E, The Kid (2010), Sherlock Holmes (2009), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005), The Prince and Me, Sexy Beast, The Golden Bowl, Mickey Blue Eyes, Anna Karenina (1997), The Remains Of The Day, As You Like It (1992), Patriot Games, Afraid Of The Dark, The Russia House, The Mighty Quinn, Farewell To The King, Passage To India, Greystoke- The Legend Of Tarzan, Performance, The Servant
  • Chris O’Dowd: The Program, Calvary, Cuban Fury, Thor 2, The IT Crowd (TV), Epic (voice), This Is 40, The Sapphires, Friends With Kids, Bridesmaids, Gulliver’s Travels (2010), Dinner For Schmucks, The Boat That Rocked, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, Festival
  • Paddy Considine: Missing You Already, Macbeth (2015), Child 44, Pride (2014), Honour, The World’s End, Now Is Good, Tyrannosaur (dir), BlitzSubmarine, Le Donk and Scorasayzee, The Bourne Ultimatum, Hot Fuzz, Stoned, Cinderella Man, My Summer Of Love, Dead Man’s Shoes, In America, 24 Hour Party People, The Martins, Born Romatic, Last Resort, A Room For Romeo Brass
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