REVIEW: THE DOUBLE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: RICHARD AYOADE / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD AYOADE, AVI KORINE / STARRING: JESSE EISENBERG, MIA WASIKOWSKA / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 4TH
If Richard Ayoade’s debut feature, Submarine, established the comic actor as a serious director, then The Double sees him paying dues to his idols and inspirations. The Double is hardly Terry Gilliam-lite, instead it’s Ayoade celebrating his cinematic and literary heroes rather than creating something fresh.
Ayoade’s sophomore effort is a pleasing patchwork of some of cinema's finest. Yes, it most closely resembles Gilliam’s Brazil both aesthetically and politically, but it also owes a debt to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and, to a lesser extent, French auteur Gasper Noa.
Based on the novella by Dostoevsky, Ayoade and Avi Korine have written a sharp script, which is remarkably well cast. After portraying Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg has carved himself out a niche playing slightly unhinged characters. He brings life to both Simon James and James Simon, having them exist on their own merits. Mia Wasikowska, though, is especially good in the role of Hannah, perhaps her finest since 2011's Jane Eyre. Yasmin Paige, as in Submarine, plays a confrontational woman, which is seemingly becoming a trope of the director’s work.
The film’s colour palette is made up of varying shades of tonal grey, some softer, most harsh and industrial. It’s set in a timeless netherworld with a curious mix of technologies and art, giving the film a strange, almost cyberpunk quality.
Andrew Hewitt’s soundtrack and score take a leaf from Trent Reznor’s book, and really brings another level of quirkiness to the proceedings. It’s far from a quirky film, however, with themes of obsession, voyeurism, suicide and identity at the heart of a frankly gloomy 90 minutes.
It has a peculiar humour, at times farcical, and at others fatalistic. That’s not to say it doesn’t make you giggle, it’s just often muted, as if it’s been processed through the photocopier Simon so often frequents.
After the director’s whimsical coming of age drama, The Double is a bit dull in comparison. It may very well be Ayoade in his imitation (and art school pretension) stage, but he’s one of Britain’s brightest filmmakers, up there with Ben Wheatley and Paddy Considine.
Extras: Making of / Deleted scenes / Extended scenes / Trailers