Richard Ayoade’s Sophomore film is nowhere near the same ballpark as the quintessentially British Indie flick Submarine that propelled him into the realms of up-and-coming director. The Double is adapted from the Dostoyevsky story of the same name and features Jesse Eisenberg in his second film involving video cloning techniques.
The visuals arequite challenging to watch, not a single shot features daylight and the interiors all seem to be painted in a gloomy forest green with orange lighting. The production design is completely consistent in this to the point of it becoming so oppressive to watch you’re almost glad when the film finishes. This consistency does give the film a slick and stylish aesthetic more comparable to music videos than any cinema I can think of. The artificial environment makes it easy for the audience to suspend their disbelief during the bizarre and mildly supernatural series of events the film chronicles. By making the surrounding world so grimy and depressing there is no possibility of trying to find reason for the downward spiral you are watching: it just seems like a by-product of this dystopia.
There are two main characters in this film, Simon James and James Simon. Both are Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg manages to be on screen in nearly every shot, often twice in one shot. Amazingly it is never possible to be mistaken as to which character he is portraying. Despite identical clothing and setting Eisenberg’s performances capture the body language, personalities and variation in tone of two different people. Of course it is true that these two characters are formulated to be polar opposites, but Eisenberg’s consistent believability as both is nothing to be scoffed at. The supporting cast is somewhat less interesting, Mia Wasikowska’s performance is decidedly average, but then her character is more of a plot device than a human being. In fact, none of the other characters are fully fleshed out, only Yasmin Paige seems to break through this to still give an engaging performance, everyone else is just consistently one-dimensional.
While I really want to love this film there is something that seems to be missing. You watch it without being able to look away, but it’s almost too cool, too slick and focused and it wraps itself up so neatly that there is nothing for you to take away from the film. It’s like a soundbyte, a wonderfully entertaining and hip as hell soundbyte, but still not enough to really affect you in any way.
- Entertainment: 5/5
- Artistic: 3/5
- Intellectual: 3/5