Three quick reviews as I try to wrap up a few posts before Christmas.
Can you spot the connection? Can you spot the connection?
Based on a short Dostoevsky novel, The Double (Richard Ayoade, 2014) has an intriguing set-up. A meek, overlooked office-worker Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) is understandably confused when his exact lookalike James Simon (Eisenberg again) starts work in his office and is everything Simon is not; charming, confident, popular. However, nobody else seems to notice that James is Simon's doppelganger, much to Simon's annoyance, leading him to confront James about his real intentions. So where does it go with this storyline? Well, nowhere really, which is the problem. Design-wise, this looks fantastic, creating a kind of steampunk office environment, filled with strange noises and angles. The references to similarly paranoid films like Brazil and Eraserhead seem obvious, although Ayoade denies this, preferring to namecheck stuff like Welle's The Trial, Melville's Le Samourai and Polanki's The Tenant among those films which influenced his artistic vision. There's clearly a lot of thought and effort going on here, so it's just a pity it plays a bit coldly and doesn't really deliver on such a promising set-up. That said, with this and the excellent Submarine under his belt now, Ayoade is clearly a talent to watch - I look forward to his next film with interest.