Only a few minutes into Richard Ayoade’s second film as director I wrote in my note book in capital letters “I LOVE THIS” and ninety minutes later I did not disagree with myself. Ayoade’s first feature Submarine was a hilarious story of young love that was very much grounded in reality but shot with a distinctive style that stood it out from the crowd. With The Double Ayoade has truly evolved as a film-maker as he has taken his unique eye for film and run with it to create a surreal masterpiece that David Lynch would be proud of.
In The Double Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon James, a man who is so dull and unremarkable that no one notices when his exact double, James Simon, starts working at his office and slowly begins to steal his work, win over his coworkers, and steal the love of his life. The Double is set in a universe similar to ours but slightly askew as the world resembles a vision of the future from forty years ago. The technology is timeless in that it has not nor ever will exist; computers are resplendent with knobs and dials and the underground train stops inside the office building. Ayoade has created an entire world in which to set his doppelgänger thriller.
While the entire cast, and many more of Ayoade’s friends, pop up in minor roles this is far removed from Submarine. Everything within The Double from the lighting and set design to dialogue and camera movements is heavily stylised and the film moves with an occasionally dreamlike, occasionally frenetic pace. At first the film was a little jarring, and I never quite found myself connecting with some of the characters, but this is a film that isn’t here to patronise its audience so you have to hold on tight with both hands and let the film take you where it wants you to go.
In this bizarre, almost dystopian reality, we watch as Eisenberg struggles to battle his much more successful double. While Simon finds himself gradually removed from people’s memories and his employer’s computer system his double James is being heaped with praise and is romancing every woman in Simon’s life. Simon’s life was bleak enough as it was without someone coming along and showing him how he could have been living it. As Simon finds himself pushed to the brink of his mind and his existence the conflict comes to a head and the film ended with me just the wrong side of baffled. The only trouble with truly surreal cinema is that it will never quite connect on the same level as a film about a young boy falling in love.
I really can’t do justice to the unique visuals of The Double here in writing. Or for that matter the sound design which was INCREDIBLE, trust me. Instead you are going to have to seek out this gem for yourself when it get’s a UK release.
Some may find it impenetrable but I absolutely love this timeless masterpiece. Slightly too baffling for five stars but a bold and brave film by a director who seems set to continually impress and surprise. Actually… go on then, have your five stars.
Come in close everyone, I have something I need to talk about…. I have seen the final episode of The IT Crowd and I really enjoyed it. The only problem is I have no idea how to review it without either spoiling jokes or sounding like a gushing idiot.
For those of you who are unaware of The IT Crowd then the final episode is not really for you. You need to get yourself the DVDs, sort out your comedy priorities, and stop watching so much Derek. For fans of The IT Crowd all I can say is that you are in safe hands with Graham Linehan. Despite this special being a full hour rather than the usual half the episode doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary; this is not a “very special” episode just a slightly longer episode of the show we know and love.
Sadly the continuing success of both Chris O’Dowd and Richard Ayoade means that they are no longer able to commit to filming a full series but they have come back for this one-off for love rather than money. The show is exactly as you remember it in the best possible way and it is a joy, the sort that makes you giggle uncontrollably, to see the pair team up with Katherine Parkinson one last time for some basement dwelling hijinks.
Provided you haven’t gone and been all illegal you will no doubt be watching Agents of SHIELDon Channel 4 directly before The IT Crowd comes on so just sit back, relax and enjoy one fine hour of comedy. Then be sure to think about all the TV comedy we currently have still on the air and allow yourself a good ten minutes of despair.
The IT Crowd: The Final Episode airs this Friday 27th September at 9pm on Channel 4.
It’s no secret that we loveSubmarine, and it will take an impressive batch of films in the next five months for it not to reach our top 10 of 2011. This tale of a teenage boy dealing with his parent’s troubled marriage and struggling with a first love is as near perfect as any film this year. Richard Ayoade’s direction is stunning, unpolished and creates frame after frame of gorgeous visuals.
The cast all seem to understand the tone of the film perfectly, from Yasmin Paige and Craig Roberts as the awkward young couple, to Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor as the awkward parents on the verge of breakdown. Only Paddy Considine gives a slightly misjudged performance as a marginally too broad mystic healer.
Submarine is a must-see and for me, a vital addition to my DVD collection.
The DVD has a fair few added features including a commentary with director Richard Ayoade, author of the Submarine novel Joe Dunthorne and director of photography Erik Wilson, cast and crew Q&As, music video, deleted scenes and interviews. The Q&As are taken from the film’s appearances at various film festivals and mostly consist of Ayoade being completely endearing and self-effacing while avoiding answering any serious question directly.
There is also a full version of Through The Prism with Graham T. Purvis, essentially a long performance from Paddy Considine in character and to camera, and footage from a test shoot which shows just how well planned and considered Ayoade’s style was. With such a low-budget we are sadly lacking any form of a making-of documentary.
This is an essential release and is out on DVD and Blu-ray right now. You won’t regret it.
At long last you can all see some well edited clips set to music, in the form of a trailer, for Submarine. Richard Ayode has a little masterpiece on his hands here and the trailer only hints at how good the film is, we loved it and are sure you will too when it comes out on the 18th of March.