A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Double (based on a story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky) is a dark comedy seemingly set in a fairly bleak alternate universe. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k," notably in a tirade toward the end of the movie. "S--t," "ass," and other words are also used. There are also several images of violence, such as suicide (with pools of blood) and fighting, and knives and guns are shown. One character is shown to be a promiscuous lover, seducing several women, and although no nudity or sex acts are actually shown, sex is heard. Adult characters drink alcohol socially in two scenes. The movie may catch on with some teens the way that Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985) once did, as a kind of cult classic.
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What's the story?
Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) lives in a creepy alternate world, working in a soulless office and coming home to a miserable apartment. He loves the girl, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), in the next building -- he watches her create and tear up little paintings -- but lacks the courage to approach her. Enter James, an exact double of Simon, except that he's commanding, confident, and seductive. At first, it appears as if he wants to help Simon out of his funk, but it turns out that James thinks only of himself. He gets ahead in the office by stealing Simon's work and sets to work seducing Hannah, too. Simon's situation soon grows critical, and he realizes that he needs to take desperate measures.
Is it any good?
As with his film Submarine, director Richard Ayoade doesn't really bring anything new to the screen here, but what he does bring is flush with style and a special kind of grim, darkly comic energy. THE DOUBLE employs an unsettling kind of hissing, rattling soundtrack, much like many of David Lynch's movies. Add an environment of hopeless offices and apartments, set in a weird alternate future with old-fashioned dial phones and tube TV sets, and you have a genuine Kafka feel, with a dash of Brazil thrown in.
Despite this bleak sensibility, Eisenberg brings a strong sense of humanity and identity to his dual role, perfectly fitting both the pained, passive part as well as the cocky, aggressive part. His angular face somehow becomes either handsome or nerdy when the occasion arises. It's a heartfelt performance in what might have been a constricting movie, and Wasikowska perfectly compliments him. Neat little cameos add some welcome humor, making the darkness tolerable and even enjoyable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Double's violence. Why is suicide so popular in the movie's world? What message does that send to viewers?
What is the movie trying to say with its idea of a "double"? Can a single person have two sides of a personality that make him or her seem different?
Are either of the movie's sides right or wrong? Which one is more appealing or interesting? Why?
What is a "dystopian" world? How does this movie present that idea? What is good and bad about this world? What can be changed?