Wow! What a bizarre film! Unfortunately the few funny moments there were were quite overshadowed by it's completely weird and random vibe throughout.
Fun premise, good actors, bad writing. This film seemed to have potential at the beginning but it quickly devolves into a trite action film. Ultimately it's very boring.
The film creates a perfect balance between action and depth of basic needs, in the midst of an infertile atmosphere.
I think this is a new genre that they're all sort of working their way through it and haven't got all the kinks worked out yet but it's a genre that works for me.
Jesse Eisenberg heartily devours the dual-role of Simon and James in director Richard Ayoade's The Double. He is a treat to watch, beginning to end. Unfortunately, he is the only reason I watched to the end. Simon is the type of person nobody sees or cares about, in an unglamorous, quasi-dystopian post-modern future-past office, reminiscent of (read: stolen from) Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Simon is not a clown; he's a serious, honest, hard-working individual, but is essentially an uninteresting, unimportant and invisible person. His fate is worse than that of a person that bad things happen to, because nothing happens to him. Security, his boss, the girl he likes, even inanimate objects like the subway and the elevator do not see him or respond to him. When James, the new-hire, arrives at the office, Simon's world is turned upside down. Suddenly James is noticed for all the hard work Simon has been doing for years; girls see the same face, and are attracted to James but still ignore Simon. As James becomes more ingrained in the office and wins the approval of his superiors and associates, the more Simon is seen as less worthy. And of course, the girl of Simon's dreams can't see him for who he really is when James is in the spotlight. It's time for drastic action, if only he can summon the requisite bravery, and can solve the puzzle he's put himself in. People's opinions of him are much harder to sway when his carbon-copy is the better him in every way.And this is where director Richard Ayoade falls flat. Through terrific lighting and exacting shots and specific manipulation of plot pieces, he fails to distinguish Simon from James in the most meaningful way: to the other characters around them. Though it is much more than a wink at the duality of our own existence as ego (what we see ourselves as) and objective (how others see us), it is near impossible to understand how not only do the other co-workers not see the two as identical in appearance (and not discuss this) but also how they see them as wholly different individuals, character-wise. This allows James to somehow con everyone into believing bad acts he committed were done by Simon, and good acts Simon did were his. The crux of the film lies on this point: that because nobody sees him, Simon must be the one to own all negative character aspects. As Simon works harder to establish himself as the good character, he becomes less so. There is so much psychology going on here it is difficult to put into words. Far more challenging is for the director trying to put it into images. From the opening scene it is very obvious that the director is sending a strong message. It is this omnipresent stamp on every scene, every shot, that doesn't allow the movie to breathe. There is no build up and release, just one depressing scene after another. Poor Simon can't catch a break, and neither can we. While the deliberate use of lighting and color is excellent and contributes to the mood, it seems rigueure du jour and the colors don't seem to set a tone or create a style. Music selections are unusual and offbeat, but not interesting enough, and no consistent style emerges from the selections. Also deliberate is the underdevelopment of all secondary characters. We know nothing of Mia Wasikowska's character, except to accept that she's lonely like Simon. We know none of the office's other characters, save the supervisor, and he's as two dimensional as cardboard - as is the security guard, the investigators, the copy manager, and Simon's mother. It's sad that as robust as Jesse Eisenburg has filled in the characters of Simon and James, the rest of this world is two- dimensional. While The Double has two of the main thing, it has too little of anything else to sustain it.
Actor and comedian Richard Ayoade, best known for The Crystal Maze, made a successful directorial debut with quirky coming-of-age comedy drama Submarine, I was looking forward to seeing if he could deliver with this much darker thriller style film, based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Basically Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is a downtrodden young man who has worked the same cubicle desk job for seven years, but he is ignored by his boss and colleagues. From his apartment, he often spies into the window of his beautiful neighbour and co-worker Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), who he admires, through he telescope, he sees her throwing away pieces of art, and takes it for himself. One night, Simon sees a man jump to his death from the floor above Hannah's apartment, he talks to the police investigating, they say that if the man had jumped a few feet to the right, he would have escaped death with only injuries. Simon's boss Mr. Papadopoulos (Wallace Shawn) announces the arrival of a new employee, James Simon (also Eisenberg), he looks completely identical to Simon, which causes Simon himself to faint, but James is assertive and charming, and quickly gains respect from his co-workers, who do not seem to notice him being identical to Simon, much to his annoyance. James on the other hand does notice this, he takes pity on Simon and decides to help him seduce Hannah, she asks James out on a date, through Simon. On the date, Simon pretends to be James, with the real James giving him instructions through an earpiece, but Simon becomes nervous, so they swap places, James gets a kiss from Hannah, angering Simon, he next takes James's place to to take an aptitude test, and he seduces the boss's rebellious daughter, Melanie (Yasmin Paige). Simon gets his revenge on James, revealing to Hannah that James is cheating on her with Melanie, but James blackmails Simon with explicit photos he took of himself with Melanie, knowing the boss will believe it is Simon. At work, Simon accuses James of being an impostor, he is fired after going on a maniacal tirade, he considers committing suicide, but stops himself seeing Hannah is unconscious in her apartment, it is at hospital that it is revealed she has overdosed, and miscarried (she was pregnant following her sexual encounter with James). Simon is relieved that Hannah survives and takes her home, but she is still angry at him, she wanted to die, and suggests he kill himself, she then goes through his pockets, discovering earrings he has bought for her, and her salvaged art. Simon learns his mother (Phyllis Somerville) has died, he is angry when he sees James attending her funeral, Simon punches him and discovers that they share injuries; as James's nose bleeds, so does Simon's. He finds Hannah and tells her he wants to be noticed, Simon goes to his apartment and handcuffs sleeping Simon to his bed, then goes to the ledge above Hannah's apartment, steps to the right, and jumps, he is badly hurt. Hannah runs to Simon and an ambulance arrives, while the handcuffed James, lacking medical attention, appears to be on the brink of death on the apartment floor, he lies motionless, inside the ambulance The Colonel (James Fox) and Hannah watch over Simon, the Colonel says Simon is "special", to which he responds "I'd like to think I'm pretty unique". Also starring Noah Taylor as Harris, Cathy Moriarty as Kiki, Craig Roberts as Young Detective, Chris O'Dowd as Nurse, Chris Morris as Workers' Services Executive, Sally Hawkins as Receptionist at Ball and Paddy Considine as 'The Replicator'. Eisenberg is splendid playing both the naive unappreciated worker opposite himself as the arrogant and sexually confident double, it enters similar territory to the film Brazil, a moody movie with a fantasy element, there are only small giggly moments, it mostly feels claustrophobic, filled with paranoia, and arresting visuals, a fairly disturbing but equally interesting psychological drama. Good!
This film had some original ideas, though I feel the execution went wrong. I enjoyed the soundtracks and visually it was stunning. The development started off as engrossing and character development felt natural, though as the plot continued it started to visibly become predictable. Since Simon and James had different personalities, one thing I didn't quite understand was why they dressed the same on most occasions.The story became weaker as it proceeded in its development. The ending didn't feel very genuine to me as I found it predictable. I think the movie had potential and could have easily become a topper with minimal changes from the producers.
The Double A film review by: Jamie PolsonSimon James is the main character in the movie "The Double. It takes place at an unknown point in time. Simon James works for a company that deals with data living an average sort of life when a new employee joins the team, and his life goes on an emotional roller coaster. The new employee is named James Simon and has an uncanny resemblance to Simon James. This movie uses a lot of thematic elements in it to convey the story. Different character's facial expressions indicate what that character is thinking. For instance the actor who played Simon James was the same actor that played James Simon, so, to show that he was one or the other, he would have different expressions for that character. Simon always looked sad in the eyes, and James always looked proud of himself or not caring at all. One of the other important thematic items was the soundtrack or music. For example, whenever Simon would be walking somewhere, string instruments would play intense music. Whenever Simon realized something for the first time there would be an oboe in the background. The dialogue is unique and funny in this movie. All of the characters say things that you typically would not hear in real life. If you did, it certainly would make you do a double take. For example, Simon is talking on the phone with his mom and we hear him say, "Yes, I know I'm a disappointment." One of the last thematic elements is that the actors told the story partially through their body language and mannerisms; the characters' personalities are shown through how they hold themselves or act. Simon has a mannerism where wherever he is walking (no matter what he is feeling) he always walks with his arms by his side. He doesn't swing them like most people. Hannah, whenever we see her walking, is clutching her purse close to her chest. Harris (who does not appear much) always seems to be relaxing or not doing his fair share. When we do see him on screen, he is either putting his feet on his desk or asking Simon to do his work for him. I thought the lighting was very interesting. In a lot of the scenes, the lighting was dark so there was quite a lot that you could not see. Also, they made the choice to have all the scenes be shot at night. There were literally no scenes during the day. Another technique was that most of the scenes have this orangey feel, so although the scenes happened at night, they felt kind of warm. It also made it kind of creepy. It made me feel uneasy like something was going to jump out of the shadows at any time. The camera angles were a major part of the movie. I am specifically referring to shots that were moving, like running scenes. The scene where Simon is running from his mother's funeral was a long distance angle. The camera was not on a tripod and was very shaky. It felt like I was running with him. The story structure is a very linear structure. It starts out at the beginning, or what they show us is the beginning, and then it just keeps going with the story as it happens. There were no flashbacks, which I thought was an interesting choice. I liked this movie. I thought it was planned out well and it made me think quite a bit about what was happening. I thought the character development was also very good because it really got you to connect with the protagonist at every part. Bad stuff kept happening to him and I felt really sorry for him. I thought it was an interesting choice to show the type of world that they were in. It seems to me that this movie may have been a prediction of what people from the 1950's or so thought the future was going to be. The topic is very interesting. I can see how this movie could easily be based on a true story. To me it was about how the protagonist knows what kind of person he wants to be, but knows that he will never be able to achieve that goal. It also shows the struggles that he faces to try and achieve that goal This movie really made me think, which is the sign of a great movie.