Review: The Double is a delicious black comedy

Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Double (via YouTube)

Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Double (via YouTube)

Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name, The Double is a startlingly strange cinematic delight, and an early contender for one of the best films of the year.

Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is living a narrow, pathetic life in an oppressively dark city. He’s a data processor for a large, uncaring company. Each day he fights with the security guard (who is yet to be convinced he really works there), inputs figures, and goes home to his tiny apartment. The highlight of his week is the odd trip to see his mother, or asking Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) to photocopy something for him.

Hopelessly awkward, it seems that Simon is incapable of getting the girl or any respect, until one day a new employee arrives at the office. His name is James Simon, and he’s Simon’s exact double, a fact that seems to pass everyone by.

The Double is dark, in all senses of the word. There is no natural light throughout- the artificial light of the dank and grim building where Simon and his double work is hauntingly atmospheric. It’s all highly stylised, which could be grating if the substance was absent. Thankfully it’s not, as the finished product is thought-provoking and memorable.

Darkness too, comes from the script, which is full of black comedy. There’s the appearance of the two detectives who specialise in investigating suicide, and, utterly deadpan, place Simon on their ‘maybe’ list for their next case. Director Richard Ayoade (who most will remember as Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd) has brought back many faces from his directorial debut, Submarine, including Craig Roberts and Yasmin PaigeChris O’Dowd, too, makes a marvellous little cameo as a nurse towards the end of the film.

There are subtle nods throughout to the Russian roots of the story, including the Soviet-like technology and bureaucracy, and a soundtrack full of Eastern European pop.

Simon’s world is a depressing one. He is completely friendless and, what’s more, everyone and everything is against him. He cannot even exit a train without getting his briefcase broken; the staff at his mother’s nursing home are stiffing him out of money. Even ordering a coke at a greasy spoon is an ordeal.

As befitting the personification of his wants and needs (if that’s what you believe a doppelgänger is), James is the exact opposite. He is a golden boy at work, assertive and charming, and is adored by women. Soon he is dating Hannah, and all Simon can do is watch while his descent into madness begins.

Eisenberg’s acting throughout is first-rate, and it is only when James comes on the scene that you realise what a superb character actor he is. The same mix of awkwardness and arrogance that was utilised to great effect in his role as Mark Zuckerberg in 2010’s The Social Network comes into play here. Eisenberg never falters in imbuing his two characters with distinctive traits.

The Double will not be to everyone’s taste. Some may find it too dark and stylised. However, if you like your comedy black and your stories weird, you will love this.

 

Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Double Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Double

Based on the Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name, The Double is a startlingly strange cinematic delight, and an early contender for one of the best films of the year.

Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is living a narrow, pathetic life in an oppressively dark city. He’s a data processor for a large, uncaring company. Each day he fights with the security guard (who is yet to be convinced he really works there), inputs figures, and goes home to his tiny apartment. The highlight of his week is the odd trip to see his mother, or asking Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) to photocopy something for him.

Hopelessly awkward, it seems that Simon is incapable of getting the girl or any respect, until one day a new employee arrives at the office. His name is James Simon, and he’s Simon’s exact double, a fact that seems…

View original post 380 more words

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s