‘The Double’: Two of Jesse Eisenberg — in monotone
A two-star movie review: In “The Double,” Jesse Eisenberg is a bland, forgettable man confronted with a charismatic, confident version of himself.
Seattle Times movie critic
‘The Double,’ with Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Cathy Moriarty. Directed by Richard Ayoade, from a screenplay by Ayoade and Avi Korine, based on a novella by Fyodor Dostoevski. 93 minutes. Rated R for language. Varsity.
A strange, shadowy tale of a man who discovers his own doppelgänger, Richard Ayoade’s “The Double” has a theatrical, self-conscious quality to it; the performances feel stagy and its production design looks like a grimly monotone Wes Anderson movie. Jesse Eisenberg, a gifted actor who’s perhaps played a few too many edgy, neurotic roles, takes on two characters: Simon James, a shy office clerk trapped in a colorless, unhappy life, and James Simon, a charismatic newcomer to the office who immediately wins friends, gains success and catches the eye of the quiet office girl (Mia Wasikowska) for whom Simon has long pined. “You’re pretty unnoticeable,” James tells Simon. “Bit of a nonperson.”
It’s never quite clear exactly what goes on in the Kafkaesque warren of cubicles, lit in a sickly yellow-green, where Simon toils, and it isn’t meant to be; this isn’t the real world but an odd mixture of the future and the past. And while Eisenberg’s Simon has some moments of genuine pathos (“It’s like I’m permanently outside myself,” he sadly observes), “The Double” keeps us at arm’s length, admiring the precise look of the film rather than finding its heart. You find yourself noting how seamless it looks when Simon and James share a shot — there they are, side by side in an elevator, with matching suits, slouches and scowls — rather than engaging with the story. “The Double” feels like an odd dream, but not the kind that’s memorable.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org