It isn’t very often that a film has such a strong effect on me to the level that Richard Ayoade’s The Double did. Ayoade has adapted Fydor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name and thrown it into the world of bureaucracy with an added dash of noir humour.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Simon James, pretty much your everyday guy. He stays late at work, lacks the confidence he seeks in himself around girls and goes pretty much unnoticed by all of his co-workers. In fact Simon is so unnoticed that the security officer at work forces him to sign in every day. A clear pushover, Simon even gives up his seat on an empty train to another commuter and then goes on to get his briefcase stuck in the door and whisked away from him.
Things only get worse for Simon when his doppelgänger shows up at work. Instantly loved by everyone at work, Simon’s double, James, soon starts to take advantage of the situation from shirking his work duties and so much more. James is brash, confident and full of himself, everything that Simon isn’t and wants to be. Even the girl Simon fantasises about, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), takes an instant liking to his carbon copy.
Eisenberg’s performance in the film should be commended, playing two sides of a coin so brilliantly and interchangeably. To go from one side of the spectrum to another is truly impressive and his somewhat awkward nature made that even more brilliant. Ayoade’s direction should also be praised, piecing everything from the rhythm of the music to building of great comedy. Clearly a carefully planned and very detailed film, every element is meshed together to make it the best it can be.
The film is thoroughly enjoyable, offering a dark look at self identity and it is that aspect that for me I thoroughly enjoyed. Though the question of my own identity and just what it means to me was something that left me a little shaken. Throughout the film there is clear humour but this conflicts with the psychological edge. Simon is a man who is trapped by everything that he is and the film captures Simon’s frustration completely. The fact that there is no difference between Simon and James aside from their mindset is possible the most unsettling thing aspect of the film.
The Double is definitely a must see; dark, funny and simply brilliant. It was released in UK cinemas on Friday 4th April.