By Darin Skaggs
The Double is a film directed by Richard Ayoade, whose previous film was the superb coming-of-age story, Submarine. This time around he has made a strange film. The film is about Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) who works in some kind of office. There it is gloomy, run down and dimly lit. His personality is microscopic. He has worked there seven years, yet few people know who he is. He is crushing on a girl named Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) but his confidence is smaller than his personality and is always too shy to ask her out. Things are not going well for Simon. They go worse when James Simon comes to work for them. He is the polar opposite of Simon; he is charming, charismatic and filled with self-confidence. Also he looks identical to Simon due to the fact he is also played by Eissenberg. Trouble ensues and the inevitable confusion sets in.
The film has a fun plot and Ayoade knows it. Despite having a gloomy set that is barely lit at times the film is extremely funny. Somehow Ayoade made it so that every time someone doesn’t recognize Simon it is kind of funny, as well as sad. Even when James comes into the picture people do not recognize him to resemble Simon because of his lack of persona. Even that fact Simon’s counterpart’s name is just his first and last named switched.
The challenge of a film like this is which character is which. Eissenberg plays both roles, as does so extremely well. We know who is who; Simon is sad and hunched over while James is standing straight up always with an arrogant smirk on his face. This is for sure one of Eissenberg’s best film to date. With these two performances let us not undersell Wasikowska. She does great as one of the only people who notices Simon, which is until James shows up. She plays cute but sad just like all the other characters in the film.
As said before this is absolutely hilarious but a deeper look into the film it is also very dark. Simon at one point witnesses a suicide. The suicide squad comes, Simon is saddened that all these people do is pick up people who have killed themselves and after a short discussion the squad puts him on the “Maybe list” for if he’ll kill himself or not. With all the pity we feel for Simon we are also allowed not to like him. He is too shy to ask Hannah out but still uses a telescope to watch her across the street in his apartment.
With all the dark humor and confusion when it really comes down to it the film is about self-confidence. Simon and James look the same but people treat them different because of their posture and how they communicate with others. Like Ayoade’s previous film this one feels personal. Our hero doesn’t really learn to be better, we see it is hard to be so confident and what Simon does near the end of the film is just a grab for attention. No lesson is learned, it is like Ayoade is using the film to get through his own troubles and also relating with his audience. The film is filled with nasty characters with great actors behind them. It is so funny and yet so dark and makes you excited for what Ayoade has next.