Sunday 23 November 2014

Film Review: The Double

The Double is a comedy/thriller movie from Maurice Moss Richard Ayoade, the creative brain behind 2011's Brit indie flick, Submarine

It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Yasmin Paige and Noah Taylor. Prepare to be bemused - and maybe not in a good way.

An office clerk, Simon (Eisenberg), finds his life flipped turned upside down when his doppelgänger, James, arrives on the scene - except, this mysterious double is every he's not. Charming, confident and seductive - and he's ruining Simon's life.

Eisenberg handles the dual role well, but I thought that they were a lot more 'cartoonish' than other similar films - Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy for example played two characters that were much more nuanced and based in subtlety. In The Double, Simon and James are very definitively different people in how they behave and act. That doesn't mean Eisenberg didn't act well, I just think their differences were too clear-cut.

That being said, the distinctive differences between them is a big source of the darkly whimsical and satirical humour in the film. The scenes that Eisenberg shares with himself have this wonderful rat-a-tat-a-tat dialogue that (somehow) he manages to wrap his mouth around.

However, he does share great chemistry with Wasikowska, and when they're on-screen together the film comes to life.

The film is punctuated with cute cameos from buddies of Ayoade, such as Chris O'Dowd, Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige - it's only the latter that has any real bearing over the story however, which is a little disappointing.

At only 90 minutes long, you wouldn't expect The Double to feel long - but it does. An hour in and I was wondering how long there was left, and then - I checked the time. That's never a good sign.

There is no denying that The Double looks gorgeous, and each shot inventively composed by Ayoade - in his brief directorial career, he's certainly carved out a distinctive visual style for contrasting vibrant colours alongside abstract and bleak settings. One scene where Simon and Hannah sit in a restaurant with a giant model gorilla alongside them is brilliantly surreal.

The Verdict: 4.5/10

The Double is a quirky film that highlights Ayoade's flair for direction and satire - and little else. I really wanted to like this film, but it all felt a bit weird for the sake of being weird, and I didn't connect with the duality and character(s) in the same way that I did with Enemy. It's inventive, sure - but visual flair and a sly grin can only stretch so far.


  1. Pretty much in agreement here, Rhys. I thought Eisenberg was good, but the film itself was just off-putting to me, and I think its, as you said, cartoonish tone, and the general mean-spiritedness of it all really turned me off to it. Enemy pulled off this similar subject MUCH better.

    1. Thanks Chris :) Totally agree, for films with similar premises the vast difference in execution was surprising. It's a shame, as Submarine was genuinely one of my favourite films from 2011 - if not my actual favourite. I think Ayoade just let his imagination run wild here.

  2. It's a very strange movie, but it's one that actually worked for me. Not because the performances were good (which they were), but because Ayoada's direction gave a fun, manic energy to the eeriness of this premise. Good review.

    1. Thanks Dan :) Good point, not going to deny that Ayoade's direction was inventive and energetic throughout.



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