Tuesday, May 6, 2014

REVIEW: The Double

The Double

Jesse Eisenberg,
Mia Wasikowska


May 9, 2014 (VOD/LIMITED)

Richard Ayoade

Magnolia Pictures

1 hour 33 minutes



The latest movie from director Richard Ayoade, "The Double," can be described using one word: bizarre.  Saying that this movie's bizarre isn't saying it's bad, but it is saying that the movie is unique, hard to follow at times, and pretty ambitious.  Ayoade's last directorial effort, "Submarine," was a quirky dramady about a boy looking for love.  "The Double" is similar to "Submarine" in terms of the love subplot, the way the film's shot, and the way Ayoade directs his actors.  Tonally and the overall story however are completely different.  While the movie is being categorized as a straight up "comedy," it's honestly not.  Rather, this is a dark psychological thriller with some dry comedic moments.  Coming out of the film upon first viewing, I honestly had no idea what to think of it.  I wasn't sure if I had loved it or if I hated it.  Then I thought about it for about a week, and I finally realized that I did like the film, but I didn't love it as much as I wanted to.

The best thing to come out of this movie, in my eyes, is Jesse Eisenberg's duel performance as both Simon James and James Simon.  Simon is more of the timid and socially awkward side of Eisenberg we've seen in films like "Adventureland," while James is more of the outgoing and fierce side we've seen in "Now You See Me."  Seeing these two clash is not only entertaining, but also incredibly gripping at the same time.  This film truly shows how fantastic of an actor Eisenberg is, and also shows that he's more than what he seems.  Mia Wasikowska is good as both of Eisenberg's love interests, though I've seen better performances from her in other film.  Wallace Shawn, Yasmin Page, and Sally Hawkins all pop up in supporting roles and are all good with the material they're given.  Overall, though, it's Jesse Eisenberg who you'll be thinking about once the film ends.

When I first walked out of the movie, there was something that "The Double" reminded me of, yet I couldnt put my finger on it.  After I thought about this film for about a day, I finally realized what it had reminded me of: the Jim Carrey dark comedy "The Cable Guy."  While both films have different stories, the execution with certain things is nearly identical if you think about it.  However in the case of this movie, most of the characters are really stupid and too oblivious to see the obvious doings that are being presented from Simon's perspective.  However, what if that was the point?  What if the entire movie is just an exaggeration of the way Simon sees and feels about the world around him?  That might just be one of many possible interpretations people could have on the film.  Or it's just an excuse I'm making to myself in order to get something more out of this.  I admire Ayaoade's dry sense of humor and the originality the movie had, but I think it was too strange and bizarre for its own good.

From a filmmaking standpoint, I loved the music in this movie.  Not only are particular song choices great, but Andrew Hewitt's score is very engaging.  There were certain tracks on his score that I couldn't help but admire while I was watching the movie, and I honestly think they helped to elevate the tone of the film overall.  I can't remember the last time the score to a film actually impressed me and made me look up the soundtrack after seeing said film.  As for the song choices made in the film, I liked how each song was chosen to emulate the mood felt either in the atmosphere of the film's world or how Simon felt at a certain moment in time.  It might just be me, but the music in this film was one of the standouts for me here.

I really wish I could have gotten more invested in "The Double" than I did.  Comparing it to this year's other film revolving around doppelgängers, "Enemy," I felt that the latter did this subject more justice because of how realistic and how more interesting it was for me.  "The Double" I felt was too bizarre for its own good.  Even though the movie was darkly funny at times, Jesse Eisenberg's performance was fantastic, and the direction/music selections were great, I just couldn't fully give myself into this film's madness and forgive the fact that every character in the film was so obliviously stupid for their own good.  I don't think I enjoyed this film as much as others I know who have seen it because I took everything from a literal perspective.  Those who don't do that may very well fall in love with this movie.  I overall did enjoy "The Double" for its performances, its comedy, and its creative flare, but I couldn't get past how strange and bizarre everything was.  Maybe after a rewatch I'll enjoy the film more.  Who knows.

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