Jesse Eisenberg & Jesse Eisenberg Star In THE DOUBLEMay 18, 2014

Jesse Eisenberg & Jesse Eisenberg Star In THE DOUBLE

Jesse Eisenberg / THE DOUBLE (Magnolia Pictures)

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE DOUBLE (Magnolia Pictures).


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By Joe Charnitski

Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote THE DOUBLE, his second novel, in 1846, twenty years before his masterpiece CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. Director Richard Ayoade had adapted it into his new film under the same name.
When the film you are about to watch is based on a Dostoyevsky story, you shouldn’t expect the feel good movie of the year. You should expect a troubled protagonist with a fragile psyche struggling with questions of identity. THE DOUBLE certainly delivers on the latter.

Jesse Eisenberg (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, NOW YOU SEE ME) stars as Simon, a timid bureaucrat aching to be noticed. He can’t seem to get the attention of the higher-ups at work. He doesn’t have the courage to pursue his dream girl who lives in an apartment building across the street and works in the copy room at his office. He seems destined to live an anonymous life, and most likely die a similarly anonymous death. Until then, he’s not expecting anything very interesting to happen. Then, of course, something amazing happens. James starts to work at his company. James looks exactly like Simon, but he acts like Simon could only wish to act. James is confident, brash, and great with the ladies. Simon could learn a lot from his doppelganger...if he can trust him.

I’m sure you’ll notice, as I did, that THE DOUBLE feels a great deal like Terry Gilliam’s BRAZIL. Besides having a socially inept bureaucrat at its center, the look of the film is also very reminiscent of its 1985 ancestor. Both movies are set in very dark worlds, literally dark. Not a lot of sunshine wherever Simon lives. I guess that’s only right considering this is a place where the police have dedicated an entire division to investigating suicides.

And where does Simon live? Is it the past? The future? Some alternate present? It really doesn’t matter. Many sequences feel so much like a dream that the “where” of the film could very well be the deepest recesses of someone’s mind. Maybe Simon is actually a regular 21st century office worker who’s had a bit of a snap from reality. Too FIGHT CLUB? Maybe even too THE MATRIX?

The issues of identity and individuality run throughout the film. Who am I really? 


How unique really are my talents, or for that matter my problems? And what makes that guy so much more popular, so much more attractive, so much more successful? Casting the star of THE SOCIAL NETWORK is very interesting here because I thought a bit about the end of that movie while watching this one. Watching a billionaire refresh his Facebook page over and again, hoping to see that the girl who got away had agreed to be his “friend” doesn’t seem so far removed from the desperation and isolation of Dostoyevsky’s main character.

As I’ve mentioned, Simon’s is a bleak reality, except of course, for the girl, Hannah. There is always the girl. In the darkest vision of the future or the present, there is the hope of a love, and with that love, the potential that everything may be worth it after all. Is THE DOUBLE worth it? Like the Russian author himself, it’s not going to be for everyone. Its third act is a little sloppy and some viewers will desire a greater payoff. But if you’re a fan of some of the other works mentioned here, and you’ve got an existential itch to scratch, THE DOUBLE is worth a look.



Joe Charnitski


Joe Charnitski
Joe Charnitski is a new contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. His career in film and television production, development and marketing has included stops at Miramax Films, Syfy and VH1. He currently works at a entertainment focused social media marketing agency in New York City. Twitter:@JoeCharnitski


Read Joe's Other Reviews...

MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS - The Documentary Featuring The National DEMAND IT

THE ART OF THE STEAL Starring Kurt Russell & Matt Dillon -  TRY IT 

ALL IS BRIGHT Starring Paul Giamatti & Paul Rudd -  TRY IT 



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