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The Double Review

Updated on July 9, 2014

Seeing Double?

Originally set to release in 2013, The Double, now in theatres, is based on a novella "The Double: A Petersburg Poem" written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, that, much like the book, is a brilliant piece of fiction. Filled with unyielding mystery and suspense it takes the tale of doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde to a new level with an eeriness and brilliance that, often times, has The Double feeling much like an Alfred Hitchcock film. The writer and director Richard Ayoade has done the novella justice. Although changes have been made to accommodate on-screen storytelling including the names and profession of the protagonist, the heart of the story remains.

The story takes place in what appears to be either the fifties or sixties. The protagonist Simon James is a pushover who lives an unfulfilling life being unnoticed by all. He is the classic example of the invisible man: unnoticed by most, unappreciated by all and for all intents and purposes unwanted. As his despondency becomes evident we are introduced another key character who looks identical to Simon, who goes by the name James, absent a last name. Aside from the fact that they share identical physical attributes they are very much different people. James, who strangely enough shares his first name with Simon's last name, is a confident smooth talker who everybody can relate to and instantly loves. In short, he is everything that Simon has ever wanted to be. When James' true nature finally surfaces however, the story challenges the viewer with wit, mystery and intrigue that will have you guessing until the very end.

Jesse Eisenberg in The Double
Jesse Eisenberg in The Double | Source

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In the past Jesse Eisenberg has been nominated for an Academy Award as best leading actor for his role as Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook. Since then he has seemingly been struck with the type-cast curse that sometimes afflicts actors bringing their once hopeful careers to a standstill, and in other times, a grinding halt. Thankfully for Jesse Eisenberg, in this film, he shines brighter than a star.

His Grade A portrayal of not one, but two emotionally repleted characters that are complete polar opposites of one another is award worthy. Breaking away from the chains of type-casting, his stellar performance complemented the superb writing and directing of this film.

For the first time in Jesse Eisenberg's career he was able to showcase a wide range of emotions and suck the audience into his misery-filled world with fantastic realism. Even more impressive was his ability to portray the parasitic James, the man who according to the protagonist Simon, stole his face, without becoming the well known, one dimensional jerk character that he so well known for in The Social Network. As Simon, he was able portray a sense of meekness and extreme vulnerability that never wavered. As James his consistent confident, devious and mastermind-like personality shone all the way through. He was so convincing that although he was doubled on screen it was obvious at all times who Simon was and who James was. He played his roles to absolute perfection.

Jesse Eisenberg as Simon and James in The Double
Jesse Eisenberg as Simon and James in The Double

Love is in the air

Incorporated into this story of doppelgängers is a romance story that is odd and a little bit creepy but it still manages to be relatable enough to be realistic. Hannah, played by Mia Wasikowska, is a woman that Simon has been in love with for years. As a central source of his misery and joy Hannah's life is tied almost as closely to Simon's as James is. Mia does a great job playing Hannah. Her relationship between both men are intriguing and simply fun to watch.

Superb

Although this is a lower budget film than many gracing the big screen this summer, it is, without a doubt, one of the best films of the year. The ingenious themes and brilliant portrayals of all of the characters lends this movie a classically feel of quality that so many films today are lacking. From the the soundtrack, to cinematography, to acting and directing this film has excelled in all aspects and is definitely worth the theatre admission.

5 stars for The Double

The Double Trailer

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