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Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska star in writer-director Richard Ayoade’s updating of the famous Dostoevsky novella about a man who finds his life being usurped by his doppelganger.
"You're in my place." So begins meek Simon's
descent into a nightmare while on his way to
work. Simon is referring to his usual seat on
the subway, but it's a phrase with worrying
echoes. Because the man occupying Simon's
seat looks exactly like him: a double.
This delicious existential crisis comes
from the pen of Fyodor Dostoevsky, specifically
his novella The Double. Richard
Ayoade, who made his feature film debut
directing Submarine after years as a writer/
actor in bizarrely funny UK television,
updates the nineteenth-century Russian
story to explore timeless anxieties about
who we really are.
When Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) gets to
work he finds that this double has usurped
his tenuous position in the company.
Routinely humiliated by his boss (played to
perfection by Wallace Shawn), the neurotic
Simon now has to deal with a doppelgänger
that is everything he isn't: confident,
charming, successful, superficial.
Eisenberg plays both roles with complete
conviction. As Simon, he is fatally
ineffectual, unable to communicate his
ideas at work even when they're brilliant —
and a desperate failure when it
comes to the woman of his dreams, played
by Mia Wasikowska. On the other hand
Eisenberg plays Simon's double as a gloss
on his performance in The Social Network:
a character fed by the fumes of his own ego.
To watch the two of them battle in Ayoade's
seamless movie magic is to see an eternal
psychic struggle come to life.
The Double draws on cinema's rich
history of paranoia, absorbing the lessons
of Welles, Lynch, Gilliam, Polanski; even
Charlie Kaufman. But this is no mere copy.
It's a stark, comic original.
- Richard Ayoade
- Richard Ayoade was born in London.
He acted in the UK television series
The Mighty Boosh (03) and The
IT Crowd (06), and co-created
and directed the comedy series
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (04) and
Man to Man with Dean Lerner (06). His
feature directorial debut Submarine
(10) premiered at the Festival. The
Double (13) is his latest feature.