The Double Blu-ray Review
What would you do if confronted with someone who is your exact opposite: able to talk to the people you are too intimidated by; able to finish things you can barely start; someone who is everything you wish you could be? I think this would be, in and of itself, a good start for a movie, a relatively interesting plot. But what if the person, this opposite, was also a doppelganger for you? This is the question at the heart of THE DOUBLE, a new movie starring Jesse Eisenberg based on the novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
THE DOUBLE begins by introducing us to Simon James (Eisenberg) who is very much a typical Jesse Eisenberg character. Unsteady and nervous, unassuming to a fault, he encompasses the same Jesse Eisenberg-ness you’ve already seen in movies like ZOMBIELAND (to more comedic effect) and dramatically when he portrayed Mark Zuckerberg in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. So what makes THE DOUBLE different from these other works? Mostly that Eisenberg plays two roles, Simon James and that of his doppelganger, James Simon.
Simon is the invisible everyman. He’s incapable of talking to the people with whom he works. He’s hopelessly in love with a woman in his office who he’s never spoken to outside of asking her for copies (though he does, kind of, stalk her… but why should that bother us apparently). He’s also terribly and horribly alone. And all of this is only exacerbated by the sudden appearance of Mr. Simon, a man who very clearly is his exact double… but nobody seems to notice. Not even the lovely Hannah, played by the charming Mia Wasikowska, seems to see into what is happening behind the scenes with Mr. James/Simon
THE DOUBLE would be a lot more interesting if it wasn’t overshadowed by another, far superior (though, somehow… stranger) movie ENEMY starring Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role(s) – by the way you can catch our review of ENEMY here. But even without ENEMY, THE DOUBLE spends far too much time reveling in the strange world created by director Richard Ayoade. It is an interesting and menacing place, somewhere outside of time and space a la Terry Giliam’s BRAZIL or the original work by Dostoevsky. But it is also a terrible burden for THE DOUBLE, one that it never overcomes.
You see, THE DOUBLE tries to be too much and loses itself in the huddle. Instead of being a concentrated character piece that looks at the questions of self, of identity, and what happens when one man loses grip on reality as he’s dealing with those very questions, THE DOUBLE wastes time and drags our attention away. It’s all a little trite, a little perfect, and in the end frustrating to a fault. Instead of going to a place we’ve never been we spend too much time wondering just where in the world we are… and we never quite end up caring.
THE DOUBLE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video presentation of THE DOUBLE looks rather nice though the film is presented with a muted palette save a few choice moments with extreme color. The Blu-ray does a nice job immersing the viewer into this incredibly strange world.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio for THE DOUBLE is even more competently presented, with the dialogue and soundtrack intermingling beautifully and creating a truly unique mood.
Cast and Characters (04:30) The cast talk about their involvement in THE DOUBLE, interspersed with images from the final film. Most interesting is Wallace Shawn’s take on his character, but there really isn’t anything here worth the four and a half minutes.
Creating THE DOUBLE: The Story and Design (04:46) A whole featurette devoted to the design and story behind this immensely confusing tale is welcome… but instead of going in-depth and really explaining some of the decisions they made, this feels like something the crew were asked to do but didn’t really want to go into.
Behind the Scenes Comparisons (04:25) The brilliant piano soundtrack plays over some footage from behind-the scenes of THE DOUBLE. The way they used picture-in-picture really works here and provides a pretty interesting look into the creative process.
Interview with director Richard Ayoade (06:22) Ayoade discusses how he came to work on THE DOUBLE. He gives some interesting thoughts about Dostoevsky’s original story and his process for selecting the cast but he appears completely uncomfortable in front of the camera, to an almost distracting level. He gives some great thoughts but they are almost missed – would much rather listen to him give a commentary for THE DOUBLE than watch him in an interview.
AXS TV: A Look at THE DOUBLE (03:02) The standard AXS TV treatment, this time for THE DOUBLE. The transfer has some problems with dark colors, which is bad for a movie with so many dark colors. Sadly this is ALL material taken from the other features on the Blu-ray.
THE DOUBLE Blu-ray also features trailers for other Magnolia movies and BD Live for internet-connected Blu-ray players.