“… this movie sucked. Not “sucked” as in it was bad, but “sucked” as in I wanted to die while watching it.”
Last night I watched The Double, which is a movie I’ve wanted to see for a very long time. The Double is a film that I didn’t know a whole lot about when I decided I wanted to see it, but because of the similarity between it and another movie that came out around the same time (Enemy) it piqued my interest. I will say that my curiosity has finally been satiated, and for those wondering: No. The Double is not much like Enemy. The Double follows Simon James, a spineless office worker who spends his days being ignored by everyone around him. His pathetic life suddenly changes when James Simon, a man who looks exactly like Simon James, starts working alongside Simon James and showcasing just how ignored Simon is by everyone. This movie is not fun to watch, so if you’re looking for a feel-good movie or maybe a funny buddy comedy, this is not the right film for you.
The best thing about The Double was the film’s ability to connect with me on an emotional level. Not many movies accomplish this, but if I were to give you a list of the ones that can you’d probably think I was a sad sack of shit (which I am, for those keeping score at home). Throughout the entirety of The Double I constantly felt the pain of the main character. Some people will argue that Simon James is just a pathetic pushover and his life would be much better if he just stood up for himself, and they wouldn’t be wrong but they say things like that because they can’t relate. See Simon James is in kind of an emotional catch-22; He knows that he’s being pathetic and that he should stand up for himself, but he can’t stand up for himself because he’s so pathetic. I understand what this feels like, but not to the same degree that Simon feels it. The entire film does such a great job painting these emotions through many different ways, but what really sold it for me were the performances. Jesse Eisenberg delivers what I would argue is one of his best performances as both Simon James and James Simon. Eisenberg not only does a great job of conveying the feeling of hopelessness that Simon is pretty much a poster-boy for, but he manages to elevate this feeling when James shows up and starts essentially stealing his thunder (if you can call it that). Eisenberg also does a great job playing James, but this role is less complex than Simon and pretty much boils down to your average high school bully. I also really loved the performances of everyone else in the film who convey not only their dislike of Simon, but also their dislike of life in general. Of course Eisenberg was the highlight of the cast so I won’ t bother naming everyone else.
The Double also used some other wonderful techniques to make the film as emotional as possible, one of my favourites being the world design. Now when I say world design, I mean that both literally and figuratively; first of all I loved the design of all of the sets in the film. The Double managed to create such a quirky world, but one that you would never want to live in. It was kind of like a dystopian Dr. Seuss with sets that were so elaborate and cartoonish, but a universe that is so dark and hopeless. I also really liked the world building that went into the writing of the film, which really helped sell the “hopelessness” that I mentioned. I’m not going to spoil much, but even small things such as there being “suicide police” really nailed how fucking bleak this world is. And of course while we’re talking about the writing, let’s discuss how great the blend of comedy and drama was. The film did make me want to die, but it also made me laugh quite a bit. These situations that the main character finds himself in are so sad, but so outlandish that you can’t help but doubling over in laughter. Now these moments know when to take a back seat which is a skill not many people can master, and this also helps make the emotional moments more emotional. I also loved the direction of the film, which I thought was very Anderson-esque at a few points, and the soundtrack as well. The music in The Double is something that really hit home with me because not only was it pretty unique, using foreign pop/rock songs, but it also really captured the tone as well. The more serious parts of the film were accompanied by a serious orchestral score, whereas the more fun parts of the movie (which are few and far-between) were accompanied by more up-beat music.
But it wasn’t all fun and games (actually, none of it was fun and games, but what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t like all aspects of the film) because the ending had to come along and ruin it. Okay, maybe “ruin it” is a little harsh, but I wasn’t really a fan of the direction the movie went. I’m not going to spoil anything here, but I will say that the ending of The Double got a little too weird for me; and seeing as I was perfectly fine with the rest of the movie that’s saying something. There’s a point toward the end of The Double where (I assume) you’re supposed to go “Oh, okay”, but that didn’t happen to me. I instead went “What the fuck?” and the rest of the ending was then gone for me. I’m sorry if this is too vague to understand, but I’m trying my best not to spoil this film because it is one that I would recommend to everyone.
Overall The Double was able to provide a very intensely emotional experience with its performances, direction, and setting. The only thing I would hold against the film is its ending, but not only is it debatable it also wasn’t enough to soil the wonderful experience I had with the film beforehand. So in short: this movie sucked. Not “sucked” as in it was bad, but “sucked” as in I wanted to die while watching it.
I give The Double an A