The Double is writer/director Richard Ayoade‘s second full feature following his debut, Submarine, and whereas that one didn’t work for me fully, there were a great number of elements in there, particularly the visuals, that showed great promise for Ayoade, who’s best been known as Moss from The IT Crowd, a TV series I could never get into, but I greatly enjoy his presenting work on Channel 4’s Gadget Man, which enters its third series (and second with Ayoade taking the presenting reins) just as this review goes live.
This is the film which features Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) in two different roles, starting off as Simon James, a man drifting through life and work with everyone taking advantage of him. He’s less intrigued by Hannah (Mia Wasikowska, on page 2), a young woman who works in his office and lives in the same block of apartments, but more is obessed with her. He’s also been volunteered by his boss, Mr. Papadopoulos (Wallace Shawn) to mentor his daughter Melanie (the damn sexy Yasmin Paige, below), who looks like she hates the world and anyone who approaches her.
And then, as if life couldn’t get any more weird, his exact double, James Simon, comes into his life, getting a job in his office – the likeness between them being finds everyone else completely oblivious to this fact. While Simon is shy and introspective, James is arrogant and cocksure. In fact, James is like an alternate, more successful version of Simon – basically, he’s the kind of person Simon has always wanted to be. You’ll always know which one is Simon and which is James, however.
Everyone performs menial tasks in their jobs – okay, that’s nothing new in films, but Richard Ayoade blends a perfect mix between a 1940-style office atmosphere while, elsewhere in the building, rudimentary videogames, circa late 70s/early 80s, can be seen to being played. As time goes on, it looks more like an alternate 1980s era to me, perhaps channelling the dark thoughts of George Orwell, while adding his own unique take on it and providing a touch of visual magic to every scene.
In fact, the visuals are so brilliantly inventive in this film that you could see Richard Ayoade going the way of Terry Gilliam, with lots of clever use of bold colours on show.
There’s a great early scene where even geting into work is shown to be a chore, as the security guard doesn’t recognise you and circumstances have led to your pass getting stuck on the train – as shown with a wonderful scene involving Simon’s briefcase.
The Double rather heads in the direction that you expect it to go, but satisfyingly so. And as brilliant as Jesse Eisenberg is… I mean, are, there’s also a scene-stealing performance from the one and only Chris Morris (Brass Eye, Jam).
Go to page 2 for the presentation and extras.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical ratio and is in 1080p high definition, and looks crisp and sharp with Ayoade’s wonderful colour pallette looking outstanding. Every scene is a joy to watch.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and it’s not a special effects movie but the dialogue is often set against a score by Andrew Hewitt which features a glorious piece of classical music performed on violin.
The extras are as follows, and are in HD:
- Making Of (13:02): Ayoade, producers Amina Dasmal and Robin C. Fox, co-screenwriter Avi Korine, plus Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, and a number of other crew members all talking about making the film, such as when environments are put together very quickly and they look anything but pleasing – like the average workplace, and the technicalities of filming two Jesse Eisenbergs which works fantastically in this film.
- Deleted Scenes (9:26): Three scenes here, two of which show Simon at his usual awkwardness, and the third is the full video for the band at the work do.
- Extended Scnes (5:46): Four of them here – The Colonels’ TV advert (styled perfectly like one of those 1980s adverts about computers), The Replicator’s opening titles, plus two scenes from The Replicator. All of these are in 16:9, unlike the 4:3 appearance in the film.
- Trailers (7:03): Four of them, and cleverly, every single one is completely different in tone and style. That’s such a rarity, and very welcome. However, the fourth one (UK Theatrical trailer) does give away a little too much at times.
The menu is a mostly static affair with some subtle animation the violin-based theme playing, and like the recent Under the Skin Blu-ray release, it’s a weird menu because Blu-ray ones are normally seamless between menu changes, yet this one stops/starts just like a DVD menu. That’s very odd.
There are subtitles in English, and when it comes to the chaptering, I feel one should come every five minutes on average. Studiocanal had upped their game to 32 for Robocop‘s reboot, but have gone back to the low standard of 12, here. Why??
Running time: 93 minutes
Released: August 4th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Richard Ayoade
Producers: Amina Dasmal and Robin C. Fox
Screenplay: Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine (based on the novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky)
Music: Andrew Hewitt
Simon James/ James Simon: Jesse Eisenberg
Hannah: Mia Wasikowska
Mr. Papadopoulos: Wallace Shawn
Melanie Papadopoulos: Yasmin Paige
Harris: Noah Taylor
The Colonel: James Fox
Kiki: Cathy Moriarty
Simon’s Mother: Phyllis Somerville
Strange Woman: Gabrielle Downey
Detective: Jon Korkes
Young Detective: Craig Roberts
Guard/Doctor: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Liz: Susan Blommaert
Care Worker: Tim Key
Receptionist at Ball: Sally Hawkins
Workers’ Services Executive: Christopher Morris
Frightening Old Man: Rade Serbedzija
Nurse: Chris O’Dowd
Priest: Donal Cox
James’ Funeral Date: Kierston Wareing
‘The Replicator’ – Jack: Paddy Considine (as PT Kommandor)
‘The Replicator’ – Glamourous Judge: Gemma Chan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
| 1 | 2 |