Jesse Eisenberg takes on Dostoyevsky novella: The Double
Simon James (Jessie Eisenberg) walks through life like a ghost. No one sees him and no one cares about him. If you pushed your hand through him hard enough, you might actually make it to the other side. This is how much impact Simon has left on the world.
Working as a government clerk for over seven years, the security guard still asks him for his security pass when he passes the front door. With seemingly no self-confidence whatsoever, Simon just glides through life not disturbing anyone and or raising his voice.
It isn’t until someone new is hired in the work place that Simon’s life will change forever. New recruit James Simon (Jessie Eisenberg) looks exactly like Simon but with a completely opposite modus-operandi. He’s confident, flirts with girls, can get violent, persistent. All the seemingly good qualities that Simon doesn’t possess.
As these two get to know each other better, Simon will start to learn that there is more to James then he realizes and that his seemingly small and unimportant existence, is about to get a whole lot smaller…
The Good – Director Richard Ayoade
I know what you’re going to say. Who? Well if you don’t know who this man is, look him up. This man has had his hands in some of the best British comedies to come out of London in the last 10 years.
With hilarious comedies like Dark Place, The Mighty Boosh and The I.T Crowd, Richard has been busy building up a solid comedy background.
Now, branching out into the film world, he made his first big debut with Submarine back in 2010 which was met with huge critical acclaim.
With this film, Richard continues to showcase his talent and make very different films. When you first start to watch The Double, it has the smell of art house film written all over it.
It contains very odd, off the beaten path kind of tone, and eerily dark music and themes. This would be enough to make anyone say NEXT, but somehow, Richard does all this and yet keeps you engaged and interested in the story.
This film is inspired by the novel of the same name by famous Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In that novel, a lot of the contents are open to interpretation as to what the double actually means. Is there a twin of Simon? Is it all in Simon’s head? Is Simon just asleep and we are all in his sub conscious dealing with his inner turmoil?
This subject matter invokes a lot of questions and Richard was able to take all that and put it in a world that seemed all his own. Much like when you watched your first Tim Burton film, You knew that these worlds he created were hyper realized but yet unique and interesting to watch.
The Bad – Too Abstract for Mainstream Audiences
As interesting and philosophical as this movie was, I could just see myself taking some friends to watch this film and have them just sit and afterwards say…”What did I just watch?” Which is fair.
Sometimes these type of films aren’t for everyone, the pacing of the start of the film is especially slow. If you didn’t know what you were in for, people might just had given up hope within the first 10 minutes but I sincerely advise that you do not.
This film’s story is pretty much a very hyper focused character study and can be very interesting to experience but can also be very dull to others.
I feel like if you choose to take a friend to this who may be a bit close minded, then this may not be for them but if you’re someone who is really into deep, interpretive themes and are fans of films like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or David Lynch’s Eraserhead, then you will love this film.
With the big summer blockbuster season coming down to a close, the Oscar season will soon be here and this film is a great way to dip your toes into a good drama.
Quirky, dark, hauntingly strange, The Double offers you something different. With it’s very interpretive story and very unique approach, watching this film felt like the equivalent of seeing a very great abstract indie band.
It may not be for everyone but you can’t deny that these guys have some serious talent and I can’t wait to see where Richard Ayoade will go next with his project choices.
Jessie Eisenberg cements himself as one of Hollywood’s up and coming stars and is utilized well in this character.
His main strengths as an actor is rooted from being able to play an introvert nerd but also a confident asshole.
The Double opens August 22nd and is playing exclusively at Vancity Theatre.
Feature Image: StudioCanal UK