The Double - Blu-ray Review

'a glum Drama which seems to exist in a world where no-one has seen Fight Club'

'A true original' provokes the chosen pull-quote on the cover of Richard Ayoade's The Double, a somewhat dubious claim from the off, given that Ayoade's script is based on a Dostoevsky novella.

Departing substantially from his excellent film-of-the-year, Submarine, The Double is a glum Drama which seems to exist in a world where no-one has seen Fight Club, nor sundry other material which deals with dual identities and oddly bureaucratic processes that keep the worker drones suppressed. Struck by the physical similarity of a new co-worker, Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is first lulled into the exciting world James Simon (also Eisenberg) inhabits, before fighting back against his deceitful agenda.

The Double ends up not only as something we have seen before in various guises but also as something Ayoade managed to avoid throughout Submarine. Essentially a hipster Romance, his first film could have been incredibly annoying indeed, laced as it was with sweetness and sincerity masked as insincerity. The Double, which does not have a sweet bone about it, drops the insightful stare between what is happening and what is being said and instead opts for overwrought pretension and obvious imagery. 'Collapse' reads the headline on a paper seen in the early moments, next to Eisenberg's head. All that is missing is an arrow. The next half hour is dedicated to showing us how unlucky Simon is in the most joyless ways possible. A moment shortly after the 'Collapse' seeing him stuck on a train is a slapstick moment featuring no slapstick. Ayoade is on a mission to present lucklessness in the most uninspiring manner available.

The world Ayoade depicts also feels like a miss-step which prevents his film from being a struggle with something to say. Whether confined for budgetary reasons or by choice, what we see here often resembles the inside of a very loud broomcupboard. The hand-dryer in the company toilets appears needlessly to sound like a aircraft turbine. The lighting effects on the train at the start are cheap and artificial, the only time the action ever makes it to an exterior is to see the dividing area between the block of flats Simon James inhabits and the similar abode of James Simon. Is this meant to be our World, a comment on how we live? If so, could it be less obvious that that is what Ayoade is going for? Apparently The Double is set in some unspecified version of London, but I saw nothing in the film that made this immediately obvious. If this is not meant as comment on our society, then what exactly is the director trying to do here? His core story - man tries to win girl whilst hampered by another man and, possibly, his own shortcomings - is not compelling enough to hold this film up alone.

In the end, frustration is the feeling most closely linked to Ayoade's sophomore effort. Clearly he can direct and write, but this feels like a folly: a story he was drawn to in a sub-genre he can add little to except po-faced seriousness.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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