Richard Ayoade‘s dark comedy/drama The Double is a challenging but admirable adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, delivering a fantastic dual-role performance from Jesse Eisenberg in a film that rewards patience and repeat viewings despite remaining somewhat esoteric by nature. Quirky almost to a fault, the film employs a distinct visual style that sets it apart and reminds of David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, or even a dark Wes Anderson (if he were to ever work in a world as bleak as this). Writer/director Ayoade undoubtedly places his own stamp on this philosophical meditation on identity, combining the many influences he wears proudly on his sleeve to craft a compelling and intellectual story that is hinged on Eisenberg’s strong turn as the central pair of duplicate opposites. Bound to disconnect with a large number of viewers who will likely find the excessive style a bit overbearing, The Double is nonetheless bound to find its audience, and provides a compelling sophomore effort for up-and-coming director Ayoade.
A timid and often overlooked man named Simon James (Eisenberg) carries about his regular life, which consists of a boring job, an overbearing mother in poor health, and a secret crush on a co-worker (Mia Wasikowska) that lives across the street, whom he often pines over and spies on with a telescope. Simon demonstrates no drive to pursue that which he desires in his life, largely going unnoticed by everyone until a new co-worker named James Simon begins at his office. James looks identical to Simon in every way – a fact that no one around them seems to pick up on for some reason – but remains his exact opposite when it comes to his personality, exhibiting a charming outgoing nature which earns him praise at work and affection from women in his life. Initially working together and using their identical appearance to each other’s benefit, the two eventually become entwined in a viscous spiral of deceit and violent confrontation, which is destined to end poorly for at least one of them.
The Blu-ray release of The Double comes courtesy of D Films, and contains a number of special features, including: