Culture / Film

Review: The Double @ Glasgow Film Theatre

Richard Ayoade’s take on Doystoyesky’s The Double is a darkly surreal comedy, with Jesse Eisenberg playing both a meek, put-upon loner and his maddeningly confident doppleganger.

Part of the Glasgow Film Festival, this slickly stylised feature is Ayoade’s follow-up to Submarine, a brilliantly quirky coming-of-age drama from 2010. The Double serves as an achingly bleak departure from Ayoade’s debut and hauntingly explores the impact of loneliness.

 

Playing the two major roles, Eisenberg carries the film with his brilliant portrayals of the isolated Simon James and the assertive, cunning James Simon. The scenes where Simon first catches a glimpse of his double are hair-raisingly chilling, and the throbbing soundtrack serves to intensify the nightmarish quality of the events that unfold. Although the film is punctuated by occasional moments of light relief (most notably a welcome cameo from Ayoade’s fellow IT crowd alum, Chris O’Dowd), the film descends into a dizzying darkness that weighs heavily on the viewer long after the murky conclusion.

The combination of the grim setting- an odd combination of retro technology and noughties minimalism- and the pulsating, electronic soundtrack, emphasises the stark themes of isolation and identity that pervade the film. Mia Wasikowska plays Hannah, the proffered antidote to Simon’s crippling loneliness. At first appearing to provide some sanity and reason, Hannah shows herself to be just as flawed and completely lost as the protagonist.

The reoccurring motifs of recognition, identity, suicide, life, death, stalking and madness come together to give a raw, honest, poignant and sometimes uncomfortable comment on a person’s need for recognition.

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