The Double

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The Double

After the success of his low-key but often very funny coming of age tale Submarine, a hard left into absurdist comedy probably wasn’t what many were expecting from Richard Ayoade. Yet that’s what the former IT Crowd star-turned-director has delivered with The Double, based on the novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is a shy, befuddled office worker with a serious crush on Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) who lives in the building across from him. He likes her enough to hang around her at work, but is too shy to take it any further, which isn’t a problem for new employee James Simon (Eisenberg), who immediately starts winning over everyone at the vaguely sinister yet antiquated company where they work. Even Simon can’t escape the lure of James’ charisma, taking tests and writing reports for him while he sleazes on to their supervisor’s daughter. But when James starts making a move on Hannah, that’s when Simon’s had enough – only what can he do against a charming, more outgoing version of himself?
Frequently funny (due in part to a string of cameos, including Noah Taylor, Chris O’Dowd and Chris Morris) but fairly lightweight, this is a diverting enough film that never really digs down into the psychological material it’s dealing with, preferring instead to focus on the surreal world (think Terry Gilliam) it’s set in. Eisenberg is excellent in his dual role, and really sells them as two distinct characters, but the split never really adds up to much: Simon remains a downtrodden guy, whether it’s the world or a version of himself doing the trodding.
Written by Anthony Morris