Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) has been in love with his co-worker Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) for some time. She works in the copier room of his office bunker, and like everyone else around him, doesn’t really know he is exists. Simon is seemingly a non-person, invisible to those around him and almost instantly forgettable. Enter James Simon, Simon’s physical double, who joins his company and charms all those around him, including Hannah. What follows is the ultimate bizarre love triangle as James woos Hannah, and then moves on to Simon’s other co-worker Melanie.
Brazil! Eraserhead! The Tenant! Ayoade’s second feature film in the directorial chair unashamedly wears its influences on its sleeve, as has been noted in myriad other reviews of the film to date, but does that mean that the end product is not worth watching?
The Double is a funny, claustrophobic homage to some cinematic greats, and for me it’s familiarity did not detract from my enjoyment. Jesse Eisenberg is fantastic in both roles, transitioning between downtrodden geek and smooth charmer with ease. Mia Wasikowska is wonderful as Simon/James’ object of desire, who balances being fragile with still seeming to have a backbone, something so often missing in movie “dream women” (see Manic Pixie Dream Girl). There are some cameos from some friends of Ayoades which are also very entertaining, with Chris Morris, Chris O’Dowd, Sally Hawkins and Paddy Considine all putting in an appearance.
The world that Simon, James and co inhabit is a dark, dank Eastern-bloc-esque tunnel of offices and boxey apartment buildings, all sets which would not look out of place in a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film. The dimly lit rooms and smokey exteriors ensure you never feel intensely claustrophobic throughout, adding to the sense of loneliness and isolation despite the close quarters of it’s inhabitants.
The Double is, like it’s central character, far from original, but likeable nonetheless.
Sound plays a big part