Last weekend, I sat down with my family and watched The Double. Often, our views on films comprise a spectrum of various opinions, ranging from “that was AMAZING” to “that was so BORING” (for those who are interested, the former is usually exclaimed by yours truly, the latter by my stony-faced older sister). In the case of The Double, my mother and sister had left the room by the time the end credits rolled, leaving my father, perplexed, and myself, completely absorbed.
So, given this wide range of reactions, I will give you two different viewpoints on The Double. For those who, like myself, loved it, The Double is a nerve-racking, claustrophobic and atmospheric drama with excellent (really excellent) cinematography and strong central performances. For those who, like the entirety of my family, absolutely hated it, The Double was an uninteresting, uneventful and unfunny waste of a very long 90 minutes. Much like the film’s central doppelgangers, The Double can leave its viewers in two minds.
What I loved most about The Double was how it looked. I don’t adhere to the view that a film that places style over substance is a bad film- not that The Double is lacking in substance. Evidence of The Double’s beauty can be found on FilmGrab. DoP Erik Wilson’s use of light is absolutely stunning. The Double is a film of beiges, yellows and blues, and it is through this use of light and colour that Wilson and Ayoade create a quiet and claustrophobic dystopia in which very bizarre things can happen.
Jesse Eisenberg has made a name for himself as Hollywood’s resident smart-arse through performances in The Social Network and Now You See Me. For Eisenberg, The Double is a gift. His two roles allow him to explore the familiar and break new ground. He can be snarky and scathing as James Simon, yet meek and cowardly as Simon James. Without his strong central performances, The Double would have lost much of is effectiveness. Mia Wasikowska is radiant as Hannah, whom Simon pines over from afar, one eye to a telescope, as his doppelganger James moves in on her unabashedly. James goes on to terrorize Simon, taking from him everything he’s too cowardly to reach for himself.
Wasikowska is on a terrific streak of late, working with every director from Jim Jarmusch to David Cronenberg. She is understated and nuanced in every role she undertakes, and The Double is no exception. Her performance has a subtlety to it which adds a balance to Eisenberg’s polarised near-charicatures.
In The Double, Ayoade has once again proven himself to be an accomplished director with a keen eye for visuals and a real talent for storytelling. I, for one, cannot wait to see what he does next.