Review: The Double (2013)

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Adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, The Double – a darkly funny psychological thriller in its own right – marks Richard Ayoade’s follow-up to the coming-of-age comedy Submarine. Here, Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon James, a timid office drone for a data processing plant who lives his life in the shadows, failing to make an impression on anyone, including boss Mr Papadopoulos (Wallace Shawn) and neighbour come object of affection Hannah (Mia Wasikowska, brilliant as ever). His life is thrown into further disarray with the arrival of James Simon (also played by Eisenberg), a magnetic and manipulative new colleague. This is an altogether different film to Submarine, but The Double is no less an exceptional watch. Ayoade has delivered a superbly constructed, dark and ominous study of paranoia, suspicion and anxiety, captured through a moody, downtrodden and low-key visual style that perfectly accentuates Simon’s increasing mental and physical confinement at the hands of James, the polar opposite of his own self. The script, co-written by Ayoade and Avi Korine, builds up an impeccable sense of tension from start to finish, and the pitch black humour ensures the film maintains a sharp surreal edge. Anchoring the whole thing is Eisenberg, who delivers a fantastic dual-performance, and feels right at home within the crazed dystopia world Ayoade has brought to stunning life in this distinctive and brilliantly bizarre sophomore effort.

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