Clocking in at a lean 93 minutes, The Double (2013) is a perfect entertainment escape for midweek, when it’s hard to commit to more than an episode or two of something before falling asleep on the couch. A strange and melancholy comedy, based on a short-story by Dostoyevsky (a guy pretty much known for his sense of humor), this film takes the monotonous workday you probably just had and remixes it as an absurd dystopian nightmare.
I have to admit that The Double had me at hello, the hello here being the fact that it was directed by Richard Ayoade, a British actor who charmed me years ago with his strange ways in the lovably geeky series, The IT Crowd.
He’s the guy in the middle with the big hair, and on the show he plays Moss, a character who’s an absolute space-brained, socially-inept dork, but who’s also always the most adorable person in the room. Just watch him here, writing a very polite email about a nearby fire, and try not to fall in love:
So, yes, knowing Ayoade’s strange sensibilities were at the helm of The Double had me eager to watch it already when it slid through my Netflix “Top Picks for Katherine” list (right between Bernie [seen it] and Arrow [just, no]). And unlike a lot of things that I’ve sat through because they just happened to be right there at my lazy fingertips, The Double did not induce a boredom-related coma.
If you watch a lot of this “not-quite-sci-fi-but-definitely-not-the-real-world” absurdist fare, then you’ll recognize many elements of this movie. It’s rat-a-tat fast-paced dialogue would be right at home in the Coen brothers’ Hudsucker Proxy and the bleak, gray-scale urban landscape has the same eerie feel as that of the sic-fi noir Dark City. Rather than take away from the film’s originality, these similarities provide a rich context for the universe in which the plot’s often inexplicable events take place. And just like the main character’s encounter with his enigmatic doppleganger, almost everything in the world of The Double that should be alien has an uncomfortable familiarity about it, while the seemingly familiar is obscured or twisted until we don’t know what to make of it.
I’m trying to keep this short, so I’ll just add two more quick points – one, so many scenes of this movie, which is very visually impressive, are yet made by the sound effects and sound editing. The pulse of city life and the clatter of a paranoid mind are captured by a percussion-heavy soundtrack of clicks, beeps and “psycho”-esque violin stabs (check out the trailer below to get an idea). And two, Jesse Eisenberg is thrillingly good as the skulking lead (leads?). For me he’s one of those actors whose characters are usually so satisfying to hate – his resting face is somehow both smug and apathetic and he uses that “every-loser” quality here to play both victim and victor as equally despicable schmucks.
Ok, that’s it for my review: The Double (2013) now playing (possibly, it could and certainly should be) in your living room.