Sunday, August 14, 2016

Richard Ayoade's "The Double"


Just finished watching Richard Ayoade's The Double, based upon Dostoyevsky's novella of the same name (well, Dvoynik, actually). Yesterday, I attempted to watch while exhausted and gave up after about 20 minutes. Today, refreshed, I was captivated completely by everything from the performances, the score, the odd Asian pop songs, the sickly yellow lighting, the claustrophobic cubicle dystopian world these pathetic characters inhabit . . . all . . . every bit of it.

Most impressive of all was Jesse Eisenberg's performance in two wildly contrasting and difficult roles. Eisenberg and Ayoade wisely stick to what makes Dostoyevsky work, and establish the schlub, Simon, as the downtrodden hero, winning the audience to route for him over his extroverted, confident, loved and respected doppleganger, James. It's an actors feast and Eisenberg, up to every challenge, eats his way through, succeeding making me believe him as both of these men.

Mia Wasikowska is equally remarkable, as the romantic interest, her interactions between Simon and James leading to wrong choices and near disaster, breaking nearly every heart, mine included.

Wallace Shawn in a tailor made role lends great comic relief as Mr. Papadopoulos, everyone's boss in the oppressive factory where much of the tale takes place.

Andrew Hewitt's all-over-the-map score is easily one of my favorites of any recent film, Recalling Vivaldi, Prokofiev and Bartok its it is spiked throughout with original faux-cowboy tunes like East Virginia and the aforementioned Asian pop songs like Sukiayki.

Ayoade is early in his career as a filmmaker, but he's winning me over quickly.

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