Jesse Eisenberg meets his better half.
Richard Ayoade (United Kingdom, Special Presentation)
Sunday, September 7, 8 p.m.
The Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge Street)
Monday, September 9, 2:30 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 (350 King Street West)
Sunday, September 15, 6 p.m.
The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
One of the strongest second features in recent memory, Richard Ayoade’s The Double builds on the sharp visual comedy and insecure male drama of his earlier film, Submarine. In this rigorously constructed followup, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s dystopian novella of the same name, Jesse Eisenberg stars as Simon, a meek, low-level data processor who leaves virtually no impression on everyone he meets, including his boss (Wallace Shawn) and his secret crush Hannah (Mia Wasikowska). That’s until Simon sees James (also Eisenberg), a man who looks just like him, wandering home to his (that is, James’s) apartment, and later his office, where no one seems to notice the resemblance.
Eisenberg’s doppelgänger casting is a wonderful riff on the unfair way in which the actor has been typecast as either gentle nerds, in the Michael Cera mould, or icy power brokers like Mark Zuckerberg. Ayoade gets a lot of mileage out of the strange disjunction between the vulgar, overly confident James and the invisible, put-upon Simon, but his greatest coup lies in the ingenious set design, which renders the film’s world as a grey, bureaucratic hell where identity is irrelevant.