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The Double.

There's a moment in The Double when main character Simon James is talking to his doppelganger James Simon about his shy, timid personality. “I just feel like I'm Pinocchio - I'm a wooden boy, not a real boy - and it kills me. I’m like a ghost and you could just push straight through me.” James Simon emphasises this point, ignoring what’s struggled to come out of his double's bumbling mouth by falling asleep. This piece of dialogue perfectly sums up the main character. Simon is almost non-existent - working in the same job for seven years, unnoticed by his colleagues, his own mother and the woman of his dreams, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), who lives directly opposite him. Richard Ayoade, in his second directorial role following Submarine, takes on the 17th century Russian novel of the same name by Fyodor Dostoevsky, giving it his own twist and delivering a brilliant, depressing and at times amusing film. This is helped by Eisenberg's performance as both James Simon and Simon James, which is nothing short of spectacular, switching from ‘cock of the walk’ to a nervous whimperer with the greatest of ease and to full effect. One minute he’s playing a character obsessing over Hannah by spying on her through his telescope, the next he’s confidently seducing her. But just when all seems tragically bleak for neglected James Simon, his physical copy emerges into the picture, grabbing the attention that he desperately craves and quickly excelling in his work and personal life where his spitting image’s progress has been severely lacklustre. Like the directorial debut of Ayoade, which used its soundtrack written and performed by Alex Turner to accompany the mood of the film, there is a use of noise to create tension in The Double. The director emphasises background sounds - computer beeps hanging in the air and character’s isolated footprints - to create this unnerving atmosphere. Many reviews have drawn comparisons to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as a dark dystopian comedy and that is helped along by the host of familiar faces used by Ayoade to bring a bit more importance to this theme. Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige and Noah Taylor, who all appeared in Submarine, inject humour into this almost Orwellian world. One of the gems in this film, adding another unusual element to it, has to be the cameo of Paddy Considine in a hilarious sci-fi role that distracts both the characters and the audience from the dreariness. The Double highlights the great mind of Ayoade and his eclectic approach to film. He could easily have been typecast as a quirky comedic filmmaker, but instead he offers another great picture to boost his reputation as a promising director. )

Next article in issue 74

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