Of the talent that has recently emerged from the British film industry, it is that of Richard Ayoade and his debut picture Submarine (2010) which have both been the most poignant successes. His second film, The Double, is quite the test, to see if Ayoade can handle dense narrative's, with a far darker tone, contrasting with his comedic background. Despite holding a very gloomy premise however, Ayoade manages to insert his unique style of comedy as well as an intelligent kick to ultimately make this film an engrossing watch.
Based on Dyskoyofskys novel of the same name, The Double concerns James (Jesse Eisenberg), an average, if overly timid young man, living in a dystopian world of gloomy surroundings where he seeks the love of Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) restrained by his lack of confidence. This is until his duplicate, Simon (also played by Jesse Eisenberg) arrives, both helping and hindering his efforts.
Knowing already that Ayoade could tell an accurate portrayal of love, seen in his previous film, this was an unsurprising yet openly embraced feature in The Double, somehow displaying a grounded story within a setting of such absurdity.This is no overreaction, with its world being just as wacky as Wes Andersons and just as eccentric as Terry Gilliam's, with evident inspiration coming from both these directors. Yet, as bizarre as the setting is, unlike Gilliams works which are sometimes a little too detached from reality, The Doubles design is hilariously reminiscent to real life from its foreign and clunky technology to its dark representation of the workspace and the society which surrounds us. This atmosphere is lifted by the inclusion of some undoubtedly dark humour, which, depending on individual taste, will most likely make you leave the film feeling light-hearted, as appose to suicidal; coincidently a prominent theme of the film. Much of this humour comes from the performance of Paddy Considine who is only ever viewed through a television screen on a budget sci-fi programme, but whose corny wit coincides perfectly with the similarly toned programme, acting as light relief which contrasts hilariously with heavy narrative. The narrative itself holds up well throughout, maintaining audience attention mainly through the ways in which it's presented, with the films mesmerising cinematography and hugely inventive choice of sound keeping you stimulated and constantly guessing till the final note.This is aided by the fantastic performance of Jesse Eisenberg who is forced to uphold the whole film, often talking to his doppelgänger eliciting opposite emotions at the same time as maintaining a realistic conversation to a convincing and comedic degree.
The Double is one of those films which you will not only need to watch twice, but also one which you'll want to watch twice with plentiful detail which makes every viewing unique. It looses its way a little in the closing act, rushing through the previously well told narrative, making the conclusion a little puzzling however not so much so that it makes the film a disappointment. No, The Double is quite the opposite, taking on a heavy and ambitious plot with enough creativity and light heartedness to make a film which should be fairly depressing into one which is surprisingly uplifting.
8.5/10- Hugely inventive and comedically sinister, The Double will keep you thinking for days.