The Double (2013)

This movie was fairly loosely based on a novella by Dostoyevsky. In this movie, the director, Richard Ayoade, builds a world that I personally feel is hauntingly similar to the word created in the cult classic Brazil. The kind of dirty, dark, and dank world that everyone lives in without ever actually progressing or enjoying themselves at any time is the kind of depressing world that we all imagine ourselves slaving away in. The direction and art direction, then, are good.

Jesse Eisenberg plays a working stiff who sits in a very emotionally draining cube, working a thankless job with people who barely notice him. Eventually, someone comes along who everyone notices immediately, but it turns out to be his twin. The new guy makes friends easily, talks to girls with ease, takes control, and is generally more assertive and decisive. Jesse finds himself sinking even deeper into obscurity when he's around the magnetic version of himself.

The most important person not noticing him is Mia Wasikowska, who I last remember seeing in the very good film Tracks. She's a very pretty girl who lives in the building across from Jesse, works in the same building as he does, and just seems to be floating along life without too many cares. I really wish her character had more depth, but she, like pretty much everyone else in this movie, is just window dressing for Jesse's internal/external struggle with himself.

I don't want to take away from the supporting actors, though. Mia brings the cute and likable girl next door, just as the script calls for it. It would be inconceivable to pick a better person to play Jesse's manager than Wallace Shawn. He's blustery and dismissive with a force that I can't imagine too many actors being able to sell.

The real character in the movie is the mood, though. It is just so overcast and outright depressing for almost every scene that it intensifies the few times where it isn't seen - most notably in Mia's apartment, which is the only place with any kind of decorating that could be described with words other than "industrial." You can feel the slightly-too-warm and damp air as it hangs in between the actors and the meager lights cast just enough artificial light to make you want to go outside and sit in the sun for a while.

Where this movie stumbles is the humor that tries to shove itself into this very introspective and dark film. They try to add these dark comedic elements, but they simply make the movie seem more disjointed, and that could very well be their intent. After all, from scene to scene, I found myself trying to figure out when they were going to make the Tyler Durden reveal that Jesse was both people, and I won't give away the ending, but it was more nebulous than I expected.

The effects deserve to be mentioned. Usually, they cover these kinds of movies with a body double in a bad wig who they use for over-the-shoulder shots to pretend that these guys are in the same room together, even though it's obvious that they are using the same actor in both roles. In this movie, they have moving camera shots and interactive scenes where Jesse is visible as both men. The effect is seamless and impressive.

Story was okay - a little tired
Effects were excellent
Direction was very good
Acting was very good
Art direction was very good

Bottom Line: A slow, introspective movie with more mood than you can shake a stick at.

3.75/5

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