The Double Screen 15 articles

The Double


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  • Whatever the film's interest may be in the marginalized, the writer-director never alludes to what would even be worth fighting for in this nightmarish industrial landscape. In the absence of any sense of hope or good, the potent cynicism of The Double seems childish and frustratingly thin... Would that this gloomy drama didn't feel so rigidly pre-determined, as The Double might have come off as a genuine lament rather than a pessimistic tantrum.

  • Ayoade borrows Kafka’s bureaucratic nightmares without the cosmic humor, David Lynch’s grotesquerie without the unhinged desires, Wes Anderson’s curation without the image sense or world view, and, of course, the plot of Dostoyevsky’s eponymous novel without the vertiginous subjectivity... Ayoade, submerged in his earnest cleverness and surrounded by his objects of pastiche, is essentially another Simon, desperately seeking recognition.

  • Snazzy high-contrast stylishness and the two most impressive movie stars under 30 (OK, Jesse Eisenberg's 31) keep it enjoyable despite being secondhand - but the titular doppelganger is a thin snarky character, hero's sense of existential dislocation ("like I'm permanently outside myself") gets confused with being shy and nerdy, and Ayoade is bigger on style than onscreen geography...

  • The film makes terrific use of Jesse Eisenberg’s twin modes, nebbish and asshole, casting him in the roles of both a meek analytics expert and his confident, glad-handing new co-worker... There’s not a whole lot to this version of The Double, but its visual comedy and offhand surrealism make it a mild pleasure.

  • Ayoade's chief accomplishment in The Double is a remarkably sharper display of his self-deprecating humor, a perfect fit for Eisenberg's natural garrulous cadence. Ayoade's comedy also naturally suits the surreal tone of the narrative, and he's adept at toning down the wit when the film becomes more somber and focused on the psychology of its main characters.

  • Conjuring the mirror image, Eisenberg tweaks his trademark affectations in service of an antithetical creation; his sparrowlike twitches take on hawkish dimensions. And in “playing double,” he joins a tradition of actors juxtaposing familiar and oppositional takes on their personae (see Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou, Nicolas Cage in Adaptation, Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy)—roles which harken an entry, or at least a digression, into character work.

  • Despite its glum themes, the movie chugs along at a nice pace, and the script, by director Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine is filled with mordant and often colloquially vulgar comedy, which throws the already off-kilter proceedings into interesting relief. Ayoade, a comedic sensation in his native Britain, here applies his obvious intelligence and film-style-absorbing qualities to a better purpose than he did in his directorial feature debut, 2010’s teen-angst chronicle "Submarine"...

  • Aoyade's Wes Anderson impression in Submarine drove me up the wall, but here he does a much better job of infusing his influences—Gilliam most obviously, as everyone has noted, but also pre-Dogme Von Trier, which I'd like to see more people emulate—with his own puckish sensibility. In particular, there's a dreaminess at work that serves as lovely counterpoint to the oppressive, dystopian ambience...

  • Every ounce of style that Ayoade and crew slather on—chiaroscuro lighting, a surfeit of pans and tilts, the sets' aestheticized drabness—supplements The Double's dark, oddball humor. The film emphasizes its nebbish protagonist's victimhood a little too heavily at times, leaning over into stark, overbearing drama, but stars Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska are both capable enough with the deadpan-screwball dialogue to steady its tone.

  • Despite a somewhat rough start, “The Double” confirms handily that Ayoade is indeed the real deal, an ambitious young filmmaker working in a register shared by far too few of his contemporaries... [It] taps into a deep reservoir of psychic turmoil even as it navigates the script’s abundant jokes, and the nightmare of the heart of the film is doubtless universal.

  • The result is both a technical marvel and an appealingly eccentric curio. For no matter whether The Double is viewed as a 'night terror', a Kafkaesque comedy (with suicidal tendencies), or a long, dark journey into Simon’s schizophrenic ‘ames’... Ayoade has crafted a disorienting human mystery tinged with romance, melancholy and humour blacker than night — as well as a quirky entry in the ‘invisible friend’ subgenre.

  • The movie is Kafka and Terry Gilliam and the Talking Heads. The sun never seems to shine. Death smirks from everywhere. But the camera and the editing never stop moving. Ayoade knows how to break up space for comedy — he's Jacques Tati through a box grater. You can almost dance to this movie. And here Eisenberg gets a well-written part, something that lets him stammer and react and power-walk, something that lets him think. Right now, no American actor seems smarter.

  • Based on Dostoyevsky’s 1846 novella, the film’s strengths center on the nightmarish dystopia that Richard Ayoade has created through excellent production and sound design... It reminded me of Adam Rifkin’s 1991 film The Dark Backward. The Double is a fascinating piece of filmmaking, with the emphasis squarely on the “dark” and not the “comic.”

  • Like a lucid nightmare on the subway at odd hours, The Double leaves one feeling intellectually stimulated, creatively charged, and close to existential panic. The second feature directed by Richard Ayoade is a dark and surreal comedy-thriller that takes a dizzying jaunt through cinematic and literary allusion, parody and paranoia.

  • The movie builds on a long history... Film has proven an effective medium for showing how easily we accept the absurdities and injustices of the workplace. The Double twists this vision further by locating a chronically absurd workplace in an even more absurd environment and allowing the two worlds to bleed into each other, so that the boundary between work and life becomes weirdly blurred.

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