Stylistically, The Double is – so far – the best film I’ve seen all year.
Richard Ayoade – an indie filmmaker who you may have recognized as “that random guy with the hair” on posters of 2012’s The Watch – brings a creation that does exactly what a film should do. The Double transports viewers to another world. Ayoade has built industrialized settings that emulate a rigid dream. The filmmaker also uses a number of on-location lighting effects and smoothly perfected camerawork to detail the disorienting delirium.
The screenplay – written by Ayoade and Avi Korine but adapted from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name – is a little different. Not in a way that takes away from the experience or makes the movie less special, but you’ll be reminded of other films that dabbled in similar narrative paths while trying to mess with your mind. This is mostly good since most will be able to catch up with The Double if they’re ever thrown for a momentary loop.
Aside from the handsome art direction and mechanized imagination, I also admire that The Double is an upright twisty trip that doesn’t segregate any audience members. Ayoade and Korine’s screenplay brings movie goers vertigo with two interchangeable leads (both played by an uprising versatile Jesse Eisenberg), but the film’s rudimentary structure never strays too far from comprehension.
This consideration towards the audience makes The Double an easy recommendation for anyone who finds the work of David Lynch to be a confounding headache. While I respect Lynch’s visions, they take patience and multiple viewings to fully understand what the filmmaker is pitching. The Double may take a few watches to figure out every detail, but it leaves you with satisfaction after that first dip.
Upon thinking about the film more, it does resemble Fight Club without the anarchy, and Eraserhead without the extreme ambiguity. Simon (played by Eisenberg) is virtually ignored in a stuffy workplace and his world is turned upside-down when he’s involved more with a shy co-worker (played by Mia Wasikowska) and James, a new recruit who looks exactly like Simon.
Simon and James figure out they can help each other out with girls and work, but James’ contributions begin to shove Simon aside – making the soft-spoken worker even more invisible.
Though some twists may be too uncomplicated for those who are more well-versed with perplexing, multilayered movies, The Double is extremely well acted by each cast member and Ayoade always keeps you emotionally invested. The filmmaker doesn’t depend on his unique style to distract from any flaws either. Some staging may seem superficial for the sake of a good shot, but those constructed movements fit well within this strict lifestyle.
The Double is an ingenious effort by Ayoade. It’s an arty accessible puzzle, and it’s always a delight to watch.