Film review: The Double (15)

DOPPELGANGERS are hot this year: last week Kermit discovered he had an evil east European lookalike from the same gene pond in Muppets Most Wanted, now Richard Ayoade spins a variation on Dostoyevsky’s novella The Double with two Jesse Eisenbergs.

Jesse Eisenberg in The Double. Picture: Contributed
Jesse Eisenberg in The Double. Picture: Contributed

The Double (15)

Star rating: * * *

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The first is Simon, a meek pen pusher stuck with his mother at home at night, while by day he inputs data in a drab office that seems to be a few doors down from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

Simon is so anonymous that security has to check his ID every morning, waitresses don’t bother getting his orders right, and he’s making little headway with his crush on co-worker Hanna (Mia Wasikowska). His doppelganger is James, a new addition to the workforce who looks just like Simon but is more proactive, self-assured, cheerful, and possibly nonexistent except in Simon’s mind. Eisenberg does some great work here creating two distinct characters – even their walks are different – while reminding you that he used to be routinely cast as the nerd in films like Adventureland, but since The Social Network seems to have gravitated towards more aggressive characters.

The Double is Ayoade’s first film since his New Wave-flavoured coming of age movie, Submarine. The tone is meticulous, with sets dressed as visions of the future conjured up in the past: consequently computers are still enormous, streets are submerged in peasouper fogs, and Simon’s favourite futuristic TV series starring Paddy Considine carries more than a whiff of Blake’s Seven’s wobbly special effects. I just wish the film had doubled up on substance.