Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Double

The Double is the kind of film you make if you are obsessed by Terry Gilliam and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and fortunately these are two good things to be obsessed by. Dostoyevsky invented the existential crack up novel 60 years before the French existentialists thought they had done it and Terry Gilliam invented steam-punk 30 years before everybody started doing it. The Double is a happy blend of both those ideas. A Dostoyevsky story set in a Terry Gilliam world with a little bit of Franz Kafka thrown in for fun. It's the story of a put upon office worker, Jesse Eisenberg, who has a crush on his workmate Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) but cant get up the courage to ask her out. One day he discovers that he has a doppelgänger in his office, someone who looks exactly like him but who is funnier, more confident, more charismatic, more aggressive and immediately more popular than he ever was. What unfolds next is witty and unsettling and if you've read your Kafka or seen a lot of Gilliam you'll know pretty much how things are going to work out. The Double was co-written and directed by Richard Ayoade who directed the equally brilliant and interesting Submarine a few years ago. Ayoade is the kind of eclectic and intelligent director who seems capable of turning his hand to any genre. When I first saw Submarine I assumed he was an introverted Welsh boy from the valleys (he's not). The Double feels like a very British film but nearly everyone in it speaks with an American accent and with its Eastern European tower blocks and steampunky Gilliamesque machines its sense of place is quite disconcerting. Avi Korine (Harmony Korine's brother) was the other co-writer and I imagine that quite a bit of the film's weirdness was down to him. Indeed the 'world building' of the Double is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie. Its a little bit Computer Chess, a little bit Brazil, a little bit Delicatessen and if you've seen any of those films you'll know exactly what I mean. If that sounds good and you're looking for a diverting, different, slow boiling thriller then the Double might be the very movie to add to your Netflix queue. Wallace Shawn and Noah Taylor have small parts in the film and if you're really observant you might just spot the legendary Chris Morris doing a cameo.