The Double (2014)

Seeing Double

Simon is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. He feels powerless to change any of these things. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simons exact physical double and his opposite - confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simons horror, James slowly starts taking over his life.

From Lindsey Lohan's familial mischief in The Parent Trap to David Cronenbergs gynaecologist brothers in Dead Ringers, identical protagonists have rarely been good news within film. That trend continues in Richard Ayoade's follow-up to 2011's Submarine, detailing the trials and tribulations of a man to see their physical double excel in every which way they have failed to, which itself sounds like a crushing experience.

Jesse Eisenberg portrays both the timid Simon James and the cocky James Simon. What's both brilliant and hilarious about the premise is the idea that Simon is so forgettable and unnoticeable by the people he's surrounded by day in, day out that not one person can see the physical resemblance between him and his doppelgänger.

From being moved out of his seat on an empty train to being denied entry into the place he worked for years, the scenes which show how much of a sad sack Simon is are equal parts humorous and saddening. While we may laugh at how life constantly belittles Simon and knocks him down in the most unfortunate ways, it's the life that this poor soul must live, and it becomes devastating to see this guy endure so much.

As a contrast, James is everything Simon is not. Where Simon bumbles and fails to stand up for himself, James exudes a calm demeanour even when initiating a headbutt to a rowdy local within a pub. He initially seems like a friend to Simon, trying to help him better his life, but he quickly proves to be out only for his personal gain, and Eisenberg effectively portrays this, coming off as rather chilling and backing up the decision to have him portray Lex Luthor.

National Rail began placing mirrors in odd locations

Eisenberg's portrayal of these two sides of the same coin is fantastical and distinctive enough from one another where it seems there are two different actors playing the roles. But he's not the only star performer, as the supporting cast are all wonderful in their roles. From Mia Wasikowska's portrayal of Hannah, the lonely soul and love interest who's desperate for a connection, to the wonderful Wallace Shawn as Simon's boss who fails to recall him despite his years of employment.

Richard Ayoade directs with confidence, managing an easy balance between the blackly comedic tone and the thriller aspects. The film is set in an unspecified time period and location, bearing a resemblance to a future envisioned by an 80's film, and this lack of time and location works for the film, leaving us as lost as Simon in this world. The score is, without a doubt, one of the best to come out in recent times. Erik Wilson's cinematography is a beauty to behold, a feast for the eyes which accentuates the unspecified time period enough to draw you into this dreamlike world.

The Double is driven by the fantastic dual performance from it's lead star, a wonderful supporting cast and a beautiful cinematography and score which accentuate the experience. With a good grasp on both the black comedy and the thriller aspects, Richard Ayoade's latest film is destined to become a cult classic, and the man himself has a bright future in cinema.