The Double



Bleak, bizarre dystopian comedy based on Dostoyevsky story.
  • Review Date: May 5, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Double takes place in a dystopian society -- possibly futuristic, perhaps an alternate timeline -- with old-fashioned technology. It presents an opportunity to discuss the similarities to and differences from today's society. Likewise, it allows the option to talk about the idea of a "double," or different sides of one personality represented as two separate people. Otherwise, the movie takes place in a world that seems rather hopeless and in which suicide is a common practice.

Positive role models

Neither Simon nor James is worth emulating. The "good" double is too passive to get anything he wants, whereas the "bad" double gets everything he wants through cheating and conniving. James clearly only thinks of himself.


A man commits suicide by jumping off a roof. A puddle of blood is shown. The main character is shown beaten up, with some bleeding cuts. In a bar, a man punches another man in the face. A pigeon smacks into a window, and its dead body is shown (with a little blood). A character holds a knife to another character's throat, leaving a small, bloody cut. A hospital attendant shows the main character his gun. A cheesy sci-fi TV show features characters wielding space guns of some kind.


One of the main characters is shown to be a promiscuous serial seducer. It's implied that he has had sex with several female characters. One sex act is heard but not seen. No nudity or sexual situations are actually shown.


"F--k" is used a number of times, most frequently during a tirade in the movie's final stretch. "S--t," "ass," "damn," "piece of trim," and "my God" are also heard.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adult characters are seen drinking socially in a bar. A character orders a beer in a diner.

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.

Parents say

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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 previous movie, 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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 9, 2014
DVD release date:August 26, 2014
Cast:Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn
Director:Richard Ayoade
Studios:Magnolia Pictures, Magnet Releasing
Run time:93 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 9 years old October 8, 2014


i love the double though very inappropriate
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written by-forest- November 28, 2014
This film is amazing, yet also very strange. I wouldn't say it's particularly inappropriate. The most inappropriate thing in the film is suicide, but it wouldn't most teens spend a lot of time on the internet. I highly recommend it though.


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