The Double (2013) Dir. Richard Ayoade – QFT Belfast
Who’s in it? Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Chris O’Dowd
What’s it about?The film follows two very different versions of the same character, Simon James and James Simon. Loner Simon is Haunted by a self-assured doppelganger who gradually takes over his life. Both roles are played with subtly by Eisenberg as a guy who is simultaneously loathed and loved, ignored and admired, timid and confident, nervous and charismatic, lonely and popular. Based on Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, flushed with listless colour, the Submarine director relies on Eisenberg’s mesmeric dual performance to convey the film’s thematic chirascuro of light and shadow which gives its varying tones substance and style. Reminiscent of American Psycho’s skewed introversion, Fight Club’s identity crisis and The Machinist’s nightmarish lucidity, The Double is curious, funny, bold and compelling. Like a Wes Anderson remake of a David Lynch movie, the result is strangely beautiful and beautifully strange.
Memorable Moments? The strength of the film’s quirky duality rests on Eisenberg’s performance which is superb and shows The Social Network actor’s impressive range. In one scene Simon and his doppelganger share a table at a cafe, one self-effacing and inconsequential the other domineering to a fault. With both personalities he maintains a unity which suggests the source material’s preoccupation with man’s interior struggle.
Look Who’s Talking: ‘It is a stylised and idiosyncratic affair, combining deadpan humour with a real sense of existential terror.’ – Independent
Like that? Try this:Fight Club (1999) is a nihilistic thriller which, like The Double, explores how we see ourselves compared with how others see us, in the context of our common values and prevailing social norms. Controversial on its release the film initially performed poorly but later gained a cult following on DVD by word of mouth.
Trivia Pursuit: Roman Polanski was attached to direct a 1996 version starring John Travolta before production fell through.