Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Rade Serbedzija, Yasmin Paige, James Fox, Phyllis Somerville, J. Mascis, Sally Hawkins, Cathy Moriarty, Chris O’Dowd, Paddy Considine, Chris Morris, Georgie-May Tearle, Craig Roberts.
What happens when your worst enemy is you? Not psychologically, at least not in the beginning but you, your face is their face, your life is slowly becoming their life and no matter what you do, your existence is being erased, you become even more of a non-entity, a being of such unimportance that people forget your name when they shake your hand, would you fight back to restore your individuality and own self-worth? This is the problem facing the superb Jesse Eisenberg in Richard Ayoade’s dark, almost 1984 like black comedy The Double.
It has to be one of humanity’s deepest fears, the thing that worries us more than anything in our souls; the terror that somebody can be us better then we can. They are more charming, more confident, easier to get along with and appealing to be around, their persuasiveness has people falling over themselves to like them that they cannot tell just how alike you are. Simon James, Eisenberg, lives such a grey existence, he is caught between bleak and non-descript, his work cards don’t work, the woman he admires barely knows he exists and his mother who suffers from a form of Alzheimer’s looks upon him as a disappointment and in which it is easier to forget the pain of looking at him.
To handle Dostoevsky’s dystopian nightmare and turn it into a film of such intrigue and one who’s weighty repercussions will echo surely all year as questions of national identity at home and abroad are discussed and fought over, must be seen as a triumph for Richard Ayoade, Jesse Eisenberg and the endearing Mia Wasikowska. You cannot but help sympathising with Mr. Eisenberg’s character all the way through the film and in the most serious and bitter sentiments passed between cast, the request towards the end of the film between Mia Wasikowska and Jesse Eisenberg will have you hanging your head in shame at the thought. Sensational writing throughout and captured so well in these two young actors.
The thought of somebody being you better than you can be you surely cannot be lost upon Richard Ayoade. Not only has he upstaged Dostoevsky, no mean feat on its own, but he has done it with style, panache, generous bleak humour and that sprinkling of significance that makes going to the cinema at times such as this. The Double is a unique picture, intricate, involved and obsessional. A gift of a film!
Ian D. Hall