The Double (2014) Review

August 05, 2014

The Double (2014), a British black comedy film, does its take on the issue of self-identity in which the protagonist, Simon, finds his life getting uprooted by his doppleganger, James. James is the exact image replica of Simon, but strangely, no one notices it except for Simon himself. Set in an uncomfortably queer world, the highly charismatic James gains popularity and causes Simon to lose his footing in the world.

This film raises goosebumps, where the unsettling opening scene (on a seemingly harmless rattling train ride) marks the start of all bizarre things to come. Simon struggles to maintain his identity, going to the extent of screaming that James "stole his face". It makes one feel like they were caught in those kind of dreams, where one is screaming at the top of one's lungs, but nobody hears a sound.

Director Ayoade's use of stage lighting intensifies the nightmarish quality of this film, making Simon's life seem like just a ridiculous theatrical act. Simon even describes himself as feeling like Pinocchio, "a wooden boy; not a real boy". Brings to mind Shakespeare's quote that "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
"I don't know how to be myself. It's like I'm permanently outside myself. Like, like you could push your hands straight through me if you wanted to. And I can see the type of man I want to be versus the type of man I actually am and I know that I'm doing it but I'm incapable of what needs to be done. I'm like Pinocchio, a wooden boy. Not a real boy. And it kills me." - Simon

To Simon, and I believe to most of us, losing one's place in society is catastrophic. It is not enough to merely be present; there is a need to exist and amount to at least something.
To Whom It May Concern: I have decided to end my life because I no longer exist. A person should amount to something and not float around this earth like a ghost. I am a ghost. 

It is an even greater punch in the stomach to Simon, because James is a better Simon in almost every aspect - in terms of love, career, family. James' comfortability with being in his own skin is the key to his success; whereas squeamish Simon, lacks the confidence and courage to be who he truly is and say what he wishes.
"I have all these things that I want to say to her, like... Like how I can tell she's a lonely person, even if other people can't. Cause I know what it feels like to be lost and lonely and invisible." - Simon 

But while Simon generally lacks confidence in himself, the one thing he never questions is his uniqueness. And this is not uncommon, as most of us take pride in our individuality/"weirdness", and we certainly do cherish our voice in society. Hence, it is a great blow to him to being degraded to merely just a being

After all, we all deserve a little bit of attention sometimes. 

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