The Double – LFF Film Review

The Double

Only a few minutes into Richard Ayoade’s second film as director I wrote in my note book in capital letters “I LOVE THIS” and ninety minutes later I did not disagree with myself. Ayoade’s first feature Submarine was a hilarious story of young love that was very much grounded in reality but shot with a distinctive style that stood it out from the crowd. With The Double Ayoade has truly evolved as a film-maker as he has taken his unique eye for film and run with it to create a surreal masterpiece that David Lynch would be proud of.

In The Double Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon James, a man who is so dull and unremarkable that no one notices when his exact double, James Simon, starts working at his office and slowly begins to steal his work, win over his coworkers, and steal the love of his life. The Double is set in a universe similar to ours but slightly askew as the world resembles a vision of the future from forty years ago. The technology is timeless in that it has not nor ever will exist; computers are resplendent with knobs and dials and the underground train stops inside the office building. Ayoade has created an entire world in which to set his doppelgänger thriller.

While the entire cast, and many more of Ayoade’s friends, pop up in minor roles this is far removed from Submarine. Everything within The Double from the lighting and set design to dialogue and camera movements is heavily stylised and the film moves with an occasionally dreamlike, occasionally frenetic pace. At first the film was a little jarring, and I never quite found myself connecting with some of the characters, but this is a film that isn’t here to patronise its audience so you have to hold on tight with both hands and let the film take you where it wants you to go.

In this bizarre, almost dystopian reality, we watch as Eisenberg struggles to battle his much more successful double. While Simon finds himself gradually removed from people’s memories and his employer’s computer system his double James is being heaped with praise and is romancing every woman in Simon’s life. Simon’s life was bleak enough as it was without someone coming along and showing him how he could have been living it. As Simon finds himself pushed to the brink of his mind and his existence the conflict comes to a head and the film ended with me just the wrong side of baffled. The only trouble with truly surreal cinema is that it will never quite connect on the same level as a film about a young boy falling in love.

I really can’t do justice to the unique visuals of The Double here in writing. Or for that matter the sound design which was INCREDIBLE, trust me. Instead you are going to have to seek out this gem for yourself when it get’s a UK release.

Some may find it impenetrable but I absolutely love this timeless masterpiece. Slightly too baffling for five stars but a bold and brave film by a director who seems set to continually impress and surprise. Actually… go on then, have your five stars.

The Double is in UK cinemas from 4th April 2014.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

Night Moves – LFF Film Review

Night Moves

I am someone who loves their bed; I love to be in it and hate to leave it. Because of this a film has a lot to answer for when I am forced (by nobody other than myself) to attend a screening that starts at nine o’clock on a Saturday morning. Night Moves was off to a bad start before it had even begun.

Night Moves is the low-key portrayal of three environmental activists (Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard, and Dakota Fanning) who plot together to blow up a dam in an attempt to reclaim a river for the sake of the salmon because according to Sarsgaard people never think of the salmon when they want to charge their iPod (I’m paraphrasing here). The film itself is not preaching an environmental message however, in fact the film is not trying to do a whole lot.

None of the three characters in Night Moves are well-developed or particularly likeable so my connection to them was minimal at best. This is a film not focussed on character, imagery, or a message but one that simply shows the events unfolding in the least interesting way possible. This is a completely humourless film with nothing to say that showcases its actors at their least charismatic.

Every scene in the film feels perfunctory as we witness the characters carrying out some task or other before, during, and after their act of sabotage. The film does not waste time exploring things like the motivation of the characters or the real consequences of their actions and even when we are supposed to be witnessing them struggling with what they have done all three members of the group come across as quite cold.

I don’t have the energy to write much more about Night Moves as the film itself simply doesn’t try hard enough. Here we have a film that is not funny, moving, tense, or scary; this film just left me empty and it is nowhere near artistic enough to be this dull.

Night Moves screens at the festival on the 15th, 16th and 17th October.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

The Social Network – Review

When I first heard that the guy who wrote The West Wing was writing a film about Facebook I thought it sounded ridiculous but after the first trailer I knew I was wrong.

With Aaron Sorkin you are guaranteed a certain level of quality and speed of dialogue, and with 8 pages of dialogue being delivered within the few minutes that make up the opening scene, you are prepared the the rest of the film. Witty conversations fly back and forth as the film thunders forward at an amazing pace.

This pace is maintained by David Fincher, a directer with plenty to be proud of on his IMDb page, who manages to keep people either talking or typing on computers engaging for a full two hours. Not to mention pulling off a brilliant bit of actor duplication with the twins.

Jesse Eisenberg plays a brilliantly mannered version of Zuckerberg, different to his previous roles, a social awkward figure who has no real ambition to make money, just to make a successful website. That social awkwardness makes Zuckerberg for the most part hard to sympathise with, and yet you don’t really side with those that attack him either.

Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s former best friend probably garners the most sympathy as the betrayed former business partner, and he certainly proves his worth as a big up and coming actor. In what is an amazing film there is surprisingly little heart. Almost every character is looking out for their own personal gain, either for money, acclaim or sex, leaving no one to really root for.

That niggle is easily put aside though when you are presented with such a great bit of cinema, recommended for anyone who has ever updated their status. Especially if they’ve ever done it when drunk.

The Social Network is out this Friday.

Most scathing comment in the film: “Good luck with your game”

The Social Network Gets a Real Trailer

After two false starts, dramatic and engaging false starts, The Social Network, has got itself a real trailer. A trailer with footage from the film edited in an exciting way.

You can watch the film here, or more exciting read on for 7 screenshots I’ve plucked out for no good reason. Continue reading