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In ‘The Double,’ Jesse Eisenberg plays two sides of one perplexing man

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Most of us know Richard Ayoade as Moss from The IT Crowd, but he’s also a talented music video director – his Yeah Yeah Yeahs video for “Heads Will Roll” is seasonally appropriate – and he broke into feature films with Submarine in 2010. Now his latest film, The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg and featuring an amusing cameo by J. Mascis as an apartment complex’s judgmental janitor, is new to Netflix. Eisenberg is tasked with portraying two sides of one man – the unlucky, unassertive but poetic and sensitive Simon and his spontaneous, shot-calling double, James, who appears out of nowhere to shake up both his career and his love life. It sounds funny, but it’s quite dark. The film features beautiful shots colorfully filtered, and the impulse to pause the film and admire stills struck me for the first time since seeing Amélie (although I hesitate to invoke the sacred comedy because of other quirky parallels to The Double, which is decidedly a drama). While the film can be confusing (think Memento, Fight Club), Eisenberg pulls off his dual natures well, and Mia Wasikowska is spell-binding as Hannah, his romantic interest. Add in a creepily charismatic coworker portrayed by Noah Taylor (Locke from Game of Thrones) and a burst of energy from Wallace Shawn as the office head, and it’s an entrancing way to engage your mind in the massive self-reflection of the film’s driving question: Am I comfortable with the person I have become?

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