Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. As a huge fan of Richard Ayoade's feature directorial debut SUBMARINE, I was ecstatic to check out his newest behind the camera effort.
Right up front it was clear that The Double has almost nothing in common with Submarine, which was a quirky coming of age flick that plays out like the Mirror Mirror evil twin to Rushmore. The Double, based on a Dosteovsky novel and adapted by Ayoade and Avi Korine, is a dystopian future Office Space that feels more like Terry Gilliam than Wes Anderson. That's a good thing. It shows that Ayoade has range as a filmmaker and that we, as the audience, get to be surprised every time he comes out with a new flick, which I hope will be often.
Simon James is an awkward, but highly intelligent man who has aspirations of greatness, but is the kind of personality that only ever seems to blend in. He's a doormat person, too meek to stop folks from walking all over him. Naturally, Jesse Eisenberg is perfectly cast as this poor, sympathetic sod. The one bright spot in Simon's life is Hannah, a co-worker who he kind of stalks... but in a cute way. Yes, he creepily watches her with a telescope from his apartment and digs through her trash to rescue her torn up drawings, but it's the cute kind of stalking, I swear!
Mia Wasikowska plays the object of Eisenberg's affection and once again turns in a layered, sad performance. It's not hard to be sad in this world, which is strongly reminiscent of the hellish office landscape of Brazil.
Eisenberg's Simon James is oh so slowly developing some ideas to broach to his boss (Wallace Shawn!!!!) and finally beginning to come out of his shell when a new hire throws a bit of a monkey wrench into the works. The new guy is named James Simon and looks exactly like Simon James, a fact that most people don't seem to notice because Simon is damn forgettable that details of appearance leave the minds of everybody he encounters.
James is Simon's opposite personality-wise. He's a people-person, stands out in a crowd and is the life of the party... The meek Simon has the edge when it comes to actual smarts, but in an uncomfortably close to home bit of satire all the world's rewards go to the opportunistic and outgoing dumbass. The nice guy finishes last and all that.
Eisenberg plays both roles well. The body language he develops for both Simon and James make all the difference in keeping what could be incredibly confusing visually easy to follow. That combined with bizarre universe Ayoade set up really makes for something special. I keep going back to the Gilliam connection, but it's true. This feels completely in Gilliam's wheelhouse and while I like his recent output, The Double is the kind of thing I hope to see from him every time I go into one of his new movies.
There's a focus that has been missing from Gilliam's work of late. It's not necessarily a bad thing for Gilliam to be exploring different tones and storytelling techniques, but if I'm honest I miss the older-school Gilliam and that's one of the reasons why I was so sucked into The Double. It's for sure Gilliam-inspired, though it manages to develop its own personality.
Super solid flick all around. Magnolia has distribution rights so expect a big VOD release in the coming months. I highly recommend giving it a shot. It's different, it's fucking weird and unafraid to be niche and thank God for that.
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