Film Review: The Double

The Double

Richard Ayoade’s The Double is compelling viewing. After his critically applauded debut Submarine, Ayoade showcases another string to his bow.

Simon is a timid young man, overlooked at work and invisible to the woman he adores. Simon is confounded by the arrival of a new colleague at work. James is physically identical to Simon, yet his exact opposite in terms of personality…

For his second feature, Richard Ayoade has tackled an adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novella. The Double offers an interesting plot, and a narrative imbued with humour and tension.

Ayoade has created a dystopian world in The Double. The film owes a deby to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. This is particularly true of its satirising of bureaucracy. The environment in The Double is one of the past. Certain elements point to a 1980s setting, whilst other aspects indicate a decade or two before this. Notwithstanding, the world has a very distinctive look and feel.

The Double generates frequent laughs, thanks in part to Simon’s deadpan countenance and the Kafkaesque occurrences. Yet it is also successful in generating tension. It is not difficult to identify with Simon, a protagonist increasingly losing control as the film progresses.

Production design in The Double is fantastic. The sets and costumes create a memorable look for the film. Cinematography is also a highlight. The soundtrack is unusual, but in keeping with the bizarre world Simon inhabits.

Jesse Eisenberg is convincing as both Simon and James. The characters play to his dual strengths, allowing him to play both cocky and insecure. Mia Wasikowska is also great as Hannah.

The Double is a finely executed film. Highly recommended viewing.

The Double is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.