Richard Ayoade’s follow up to the wonderful Submarine (2010) is an altogether different film which whilst being more beautiful lacks the charm of the directors debut.


I was really looking forward to seeing The Double as I am a huge fan of Ayoade. In the various interviews, TV shows (and also in Submarine) there is a unique vibe of nerdiness mixed with sarcastic anger at society that combine to make entertaining and thoughtful viewing. It is exciting to see a sitcom star progress into artistic cinema and the Double therefore on paper had a lot of potential.

Unfortunately the film does not deliver what it should. Gone is the charm of Submarine replaced by a dry and slow story that stutters along. The Double follows Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) a shy and awkward worker for a strange and depressing company. When James Simon (also Eisenberg) starts at the company things change. James is a physical double of Simon but also a mental opposite… James is charismatic, seductive and persuasive. Consequently as the film progresses James starts to abuse Simon, leading Simon into a downward spiral with his live spinning out of control.


The story again is something that written down as I have above sounds wonderful, with plenty of space for both comedy and drama. It is not the most original of stories but there is something there, unfortunately Ayoade’s something is different to what you want.

The film is set in its own unique, depressing world of dirty apartment blocks, shoddy trains and dank cafes. It all looks fantastic with care and attention taken to make sure every location and shot look beautiful. The whole thing has a very David Lynch/Stanley Kubrick vibe to it. The problem is the use of a comic character in these settings. Eisenberg just feels so out of place and his performance as Simon is so one dimensional that the film feels like nothing is going to happen and when it does happen we don’t care. The film has little charm and is just incredibly dry.


Then when James is introduced he is performed in too similar a way that there is no way to instantly tell the two apart leading to heaps of confusing throughout the final act. A visual cue to separate the two would perhaps help but it isn’t there. Dialogue scenes between the characters are also strange as they contain long silences followed by hurried whispers that make it difficult to hear exactly what is being said.

The film essentially boils down to be a beautiful but charmless mess. With this film Ayoade has proven he can make artistic cinema and is still one of the few working directors to get excited over.