Audio - English (DTS-HD 5.1)
Running Time - 89
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1
Region Coding - B (Blu-Ray)
TV Standard - PAL
Rating - M
Year of Release - 2014
Primary Format - Movies/TV - Blu-Ray
Author: Tim Price
Madman Entertainment bring another great Richard Ayoade film to Australia with a DVD and Blu-Ray release of his 2013 black comedy The Double this September.
The Double, based upon Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name, throws us into the world of the submissive, nervous and socially awkward Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) as he struggles to get respect and recognition from superiors at work and from workplace crush Hannah (Australia’s Mia Wasikowska). Simon’s life is already pretty crappy for the reasons listed above, but it soon becomes even worse when a doppelgänger named James (also played by Eisenberg) is recruited at his vaguely purposed bureaucratic data analysis firm. Despite looking exactly like him, James is the total opposite of Simon - confident, funny, sexy and interesting. James quickly seduces Hannah and wins the respect of everyone at work, using Simon as a pawn to achieve these things.
The film is primarily an exploration of concepts of identity, self perception and self esteem. Most of the characters seem ancillary to Hannah and Simon, who both experience different sorts of identity crises in the film. Eisenberg does a fantastic job of playing both Simon and James - his nuances in facial expression and body movements amazingly creating two identifiably distinct characters despite them having identical looks and clothing. Wasikowska is also great as Hannah, instilling a sense of sweet and fragile humanity into an otherwise bleak world.
Great performances aside, perhaps the best thing about The Double is its atmosphere, with Ayoade creating a setting that is completely arresting and immersive. He has toned down the New Wave influenced quirkiness present in his debut feature Submarine and created a world that is dark and dystopian but still distinctly his. The Double seems to take place in a strange alternate reality that Franz Kafka probably would’ve felt right at home in - the people are weird; their motives are illogical and their devotion to mindless bureaucracy is unwavering. It’s difficult to not draw comparisons to David Lynch when talking about the style of The Double, but Ayoade’s approach transcends sheer mimicry. He has been tuning this kind of style since his TV series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and his inescapable dry British humour and injection of the aesthetics of the 1980s result in something that even Lynch would probably find a little alienating.
The ending of the film is perhaps a little unfulfilling in a narrative sense, but it allows us to ponder the nature of our personalities. The Double seems to exhibit that underneath our individual personalities, humans are creatures who desire to be recognised, understood and accepted for who they are. It suggests that a world where this doesn’t happen is a world that can quickly fall apart into bleak chaos. It’s a great second effort from Richard Ayoade, and I’m excited that he has many filmmaking years ahead of him. Highly recommended.
Side note: If you happen to be a Dinosaur Jr. fan, there’s a completely ridiculous but totally hilarious and fitting cameo from J. Mascis in this film.
This is an excellent transfer, and Blu-Ray is the ideal format for a film that works in dark shades as this one does. The world of the film is gloomy, but nothing is really lost as even the most earthy hues and colours are recognisable.
Creepy industrial noises backdrop a lot of the scenes, and the audio track delivers the sound in a crisp, clear and unsettling manner. It’s also worth noting that the soundtrack contains some awesomely catchy obscure 1960s Japanese pop tunes, mainly from a band called The Blue Comets. The one that really stood out to me was a track called ‘Blue Chataeu’
The Double is released September 10 and is available from http://www.madman.com.au/catalogue/view/20640/the-double-blu-ray or any good DVD and Blu-Ray retailer.