Complete A-Z list

Double, The


Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Cathy Moriarty. James Fox, Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige, Gemma Chan, Sally Hawkins, Rade Serbedziya, Paddy Considine, Craig Roberts, Chris O'Dowd

Director: Richard Ayoade

Based on a story by Fyodor Dostoevsky, this is one of those oddball fantasies that British TV and cinema have been producing for the past 50 years

The setting is some Orwellian office complex of the future. The framework of the screen is frequently black, and within it everything is carefully removed from the normal. Grating music and ominous clanking sounds fill the screen: it's all very Kafkaesque, with its central character (Eisenberg) trapped by circumstance.

Described as 'a bit of a non-person', Simon James is a bright but painfully shy worker bee at a huge agency. He witnesses a suicide, is ignored by the boss (Shawn) and would like to get close to co-worker Hannah (Wasikowska).

Then along comes his double, James Simon, who's everything Simon James isn't; he has confidence and charisma, woos Hannah, beds the girl (Paige) who's in Simon's care and gets the hapless Simon to do his work for him in return for lessons in getting to know Hannah. 'Put your hand in the small of a girl's back - so's you can push her downstairs' is one piece of advice.

Dostoevsky's story, effective on the printed page, translates uneasily to this medium; performances are staccato and unnatural, doubtless as the director desired. It's interesting, but by and large a misfire that doesn't carry you along with its narrative.

David Quinlan

UK 2013. UK Distributor: StudioCanal (BBC/Channel 4). Colour (unspecified).
90 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 31 Mar 2014