FilmIFFBostonReview

IFFBoston: "The Double" Is Well-Crafted And Strange Tale

James Canellos ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Jesse Eisenberg in The Double. Photo Credit: Dean Rodgers/Magnolia Pictures.
Jesse Eisenberg in The Double. Photo Credit: Dean Rodgers/Magnolia Pictures.

The execution of a single actor taking on duel performances has always been an exciting effect in films.

But, what makes this special effect all the more compelling is the talent of the actor who can convince the audience that they’re two separate people. Such actors like Nicolas Cage in Adaptation. or Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black have been able to do this with ease because of their acting range. Jesse Eisenberg should be ranked very high on this list thanks to his excellent portrayal in Richard Ayoade’s The Double.

This adaptation of Fydor Dosteovsky’s story follows the “punching bag of the world” Simon James (Eisenberg). Simon’s retro yellow tinted world feels like the prototype of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as he tries to maintain his sanity without the respect or acknowledgment of anyone; even his mother. Simon’s already unfair life becomes a duel of personalities as Simon’s doppelgänger James Simon (Eisenberg) begins to work in the same government agency. The two quickly become enemies as Simon begins to lose the grasp of his job, the woman he loves (Mia Wasikowska) and his own identity.

Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in The Double. Photo Credit: Dean Rodgers/Magnolia Pictures.
Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in The Double. Photo Credit: Dean Rodgers/Magnolia Pictures.

Eisenberg is the master of playing the most awkward guy in the room and exceeds his own standards in The Double, but he’s also equally excellent when playing the manipulative and confident James. Eisenberg proves once again why he’s one of the most fascinating actors of his generation with the task of playing two sides of the same coin. Mia Wasikowska does a nice job playing the subject of Simon’s obsession. The film also has its fair share of supporting players who add great snippets of humor to this very bleak world.

Writer and director Richard Ayoade is on his way to become one of the most interesting new story tellers in the game. Yes, the inspiration of numerous auteurs can be seen in this film from David Lynch to Terry Gilliam but he uses the best aspects of those filmmakers for the presentation of The Double. Ayoade has the stylish dollhouse effect of Wes Anderson with the sinister nature of David Fincher.

Jesse Eisenberg in The Double. Photo Credit: Dean Rodgers/Magnolia Pictures.
Jesse Eisenberg in The Double. Photo Credit: Dean Rodgers/Magnolia Pictures.

The Double is a well crafted and very strange tale of someone refusing to be the doormat any longer. This film works so well because Ayoade goes for broke and embraces the level of insanity that makes the story so compelling. What he could have held back on was the unsubtle hints that were dropped right into our laps about the film’s third act. Such a twisty and fun story was getting a little predictable because too much was revealed to the audience. However, Ayoade’s immense style and great sense of humor transform this film into one of the best surprises of the summer.

Overall Grade: A-

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