Tuesday, August 5, 2014
THE DOUBLE (2014)
Directed By: Richard Ayoade
Written By: Richard Ayoade & Avi Korine
Based On The Novella Written By: Fydor Dostoevsky
Cinematography By: Erik Wilson
Editor: Chris Dickens & Nick Fenton
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowksa, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Cathy Moriarty, James Fox, Phyllis Somerville, Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Yasmin Paige, Rade Serbedzija, Paddy Contantine, J. Mascis
Simon is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. He feels powerless to change any of these things. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon's exact physical double and his opposite - confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon's horror, James slowly starts taking over his life.
Personally for me, watching the film, it was easy for me to identify with the main character. That I think most introverts can. A sense of longing and loneliness, wanting to be noticed and trying, but all attempts seem to fail or backfire. So that of you get attention. It is not the way you want it, nor for good reasons.
Longing for that quirky girl that most others overlook or dismiss or treat despicable. Like the rest, but you see something special in her. You can see her talents and gifts and recognize the qualities that make her shine. Just by herself and not trying to impress. Yet you can't bring yourself to reveal your feelings as she is so good. She is even too good for you in your head. Well of that doesn't kind of expose something don't know what will.
Though it is a film of great vision and technology it also fulfills emotionally to paint a portrait of a character amidst all the hard shell of the outer world.
Like the film BRAZIL only this is not as grand or epic. It’s more low key and not calling as much attention to itself, While creating a unique absurd, Yet idiosyncratic designed world that feels like a throwback to partially steam-punk inventions and mechanical factories and their machines of yesteryear.
Each frame of the film is filled with the simple, yet also a richness of design and lighting. Making the shots achieve a certain perfection on a small scale.
It's a comedy, though it also contains elements of tragedy. A sad lost love story. The film feels more like a comedy dressed up in tragedy. Then again comedy is usually described as comedy plus time.
I really have to give Jessie Eisenberg credit. As he falls into the type of character we normally see him play, but gives the character more nuances and a certain fragility. A richness then plays the opposite not only believably, He seems almost like another character and actor. Full of life, conniving, aggressive, dangerous and believable. Practically the is the ID of the other character. That also shows the dangers of being that type of person and letting them love your life or taking it over. It's a performance most never really thought he might have had in him or could see him in. He's not over the top or annoyingly charismatic, as he has been in the past. Here is his first truly noteworthy performance since THE SOCIAL NETWORK he puts in the work.
Wallace Shawn is strangely more energetic. Then he has ever been and strangely going against the low key droll style of the film. He seems here to be more inspired than usual.
Many of the actors in supporting roles and cameos are recognizable. Not only for director Richard Ayoade's previous film SUBMARINE, but also projects he has been involved in. In front of and behind the camera. Working with material previously in book form adapting.
While I loved SUBMARINE this film feels more polished and assured. Though with some kind if ambiance.
An earlier version of this film, also based on Fydor Dostoevsky's novel, and also to have been called The Double, came close to being made by director Roman Polanski in 1996.John Travolta was to have played the lead role alongside Isabelle Adjani, John Goodman and Jean Reno. Shooting was to have started in Paris in June 1996. However, just days before principal photography was due to begin, Travolta left the project after an argument with Polanski about alleged changes to the script and the film collapsed shortly afterwards.
Mia Wasikowska is excellent as usual. As the depressed beauty of his desire. She is the strangely attainable beauty. The mousy girl at the office. Who has a certain innocence, resonance and manner of a girl. Yet Physically a woman Not as hard edged and open to the belief and possibility of anything.
Sort of like how the message of the film could have been, Technology has taken over most of the human world. That seems to be cutting us off from each other and even ourselves. As we become dependent and seperated rather then connected, Which these inventions were supposed to achieve and help open us to others, bring us together making connections but have let it do the opposite. --It's hard to exactly wrap your mind around the film and explain the experience. It's one you have to see for yourself to see if the experience was worth it.
The film creates a universe that never feels small and always feel like we are still discovering so much and explanations. The film is so small scale yet so vivid. It's a film better experienced then explained to see how it affects you and what meanings and understanding explanations you come up with, As it makes you think and not spoon feeding you telling you what to think. You could see it has a point of view and isn't offering easy answers. It doesn't want to or never really thinks of it. Some might feel like it is bad storytelling of filmmakers. I believe it gives the film at least in this case a certain creative freedom to fill in it's own meaning and express itself as it seems fit.
While it reminds one of a Terry Gilliam film and universe. The film and it’s own galaxy marches to the beat of it’s own drummer. As the film seems more interested in characters and emotions first, visuals second. While Gilliam’s films seem the other way around. It might be as his training and background is in animation. So he is more concerned with the greater picture, visuals and creating a world. Where as Richard Ayoade’s background is in comedy, acting and writing, More as a performer. So he is obviously more interested in motivations, character and performances it would seem.
I personally look forward to the future films of Richard Ayoade. As he has something special in picking material and staying true to it, While injecting his own sensibilities into it.