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Thursday, March 27, 2014


Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in THE DOUBLE, a Magnolia Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Photo credit: Dean Rodgers
2014, 93 minutes
Rated R for language

Review by Joshua Handler

The Double is screening as part of New Directors/New Films tomorrow evening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Richard Ayoade's The Double is best described as the perfect mix between Brazil and Fight Club.  Based on a work by Dostoyevsky, The Double tells the story of a man, Simon (Jesse Eisenberg), who lives his life as an invisible bureaucrat.  Simon lives alone and falls for Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), a woman who lives in the building across the way, whom he spies upon using a telescope in his window.  One day, Simon meets James, a man who looks exactly like him, yet personality-wise, is the polar opposite.  As James becomes more of a presence in Simon's life, he starts to drive Simon insane.

The Double is a heavily stylized film with noirish lighting and surrealism galore.  However, as dark and weird as this movie is, Ayoade imbues it with a healthy sense of humor that makes the movie extremely enjoyable.  Erik Winton's energetic cinematography adds to the film's surreal atmosphere and uniqueness.

Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine's wickedly funny screenplay features some sharp dialogue and a story that's always compelling with twists and turns.  It's exhilarating to watch The Double barrel along.  Ayoade keeps the pace extremely fast, never allowing the film to drag.

Jesse Eisenberg gives what might be his best performance(s) yet as Simon and James.  As Simon, Eisenberg portrays his usual kind of character - the shy, nervous man.  It's his scenes as James where he really gets to shine.  James is outgoing, sharp, witty, and a ladies man.  Eisenberg gives James a cocky, nasty edge with an outgoingness that I've never seen from him before.  These opposing characters are beautifully realized by Eisenberg and it is a pleasure to see him expand his range as an actor.

Overall, The Double is a funny, dark, twisted piece of work that was immensely entertaining to watch.  Richard Ayoade seems to have nearly perfected a tone and style with The Double.  Ayoade showed serious directorial promise with his directorial debut feature, Submarine, but Submarine was too heavy on style and too light on story.  With The Double, Ayoade strikes the perfect balance between style and substance, making me very excited to see what he comes up with next.


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