Jake Gyllenhaal’s buttoned-up Toronto history professor Adam is understandably alarmed to discover he has an exact lookalike, louche actor Anthony, in The Double, a decidedly odd psychological thriller based on Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s 2002 novel O Homem Duplicado (The Duplicated Man).
The viewer is quite like to share the protagonist’s bafflement. As Adam pursues his doppelganger across a Toronto of sleek, soulless high-rises, director Denis Villeneuve throws in such puzzlingly surreal touches as a spider-faced naked woman and the sight of a giant arachnid striding across the city’s smog-hazed skyline. What on earth – or, more likely, the subconscious – is going on?
The deliberately flat tone may prove a turn-off for some. Give the film a chance, though, and the accumulating unease it generates will get under your skin. And Gyllenhaal is superb. Ably supported by co-stars Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon (especially good as Adam’s heavily pregnant wife), he invests his two characters with subtly distinct identities while leaving open the suggestion that they may in fact be different aspects of the same person.
Certificate 15. Runtime 90 mins. Director Denis Villeneuve.
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