I kinda stumbled onto this movie in a late night Netflix hole and had to watch it, partly because it has Jesse Eisenberg in it, and I will inexplicably watch any movie with him even though he shares annoying sad boy vibes with Michael Cera. (I cannot stand the mopey, sad guy trope, it is massively overused and that’s all I’m gonna say about it right now.) The other reason I had to watch it is because IT’S ABOUT DOPPELGANGERS, which fascinate me.
[General content warning — although I won’t discuss it in the post, suicide is discussed/depicted in the film, so be aware of this if you decide to watch it.]
The basic premise (based off of the Dostoyevsky novel) is that Simon, a timid office worker, encounters his physical doppelganger James, although the doppelganger is basically his opposite in terms of personality. In typical doppelganger fashion, James sets about taking over Simon’s life. It was interesting to me that James used Simon’s strengths for his own personal gain, because it signals what Simon’s life could have been like, if he wasn’t so shy. Initially, you’re led to think that Simon should just learn to stand up for himself like James does, even as James is revealed to be selfish and manipulative.
On the other side of this, however, the creaky, dreary world of the movie seems to be conspiring against Simon, because there are several points in the film where machines stop functioning properly around him, even though they work for other people.
The other thing that really struck me is how much emphasis is placed on people watching, rather than living. In the film, this shows up in watching television, because Simon watches a program with a very confident, bold hero and obviously aspires to be like him. However, there’s also a lot of watching other people, in a more dedicated way than casual people watching. For a large chunk of the beginning of the movie, I had this kind of uncomfortable pit in my stomach, because Simon stalks a woman (Hannah) he is interested in; he lurks around corners waiting to catch a glimpse at her and even watches her in her apartment through a telescope. I think a lot of people get this romantic notion of pining after somebody, or about unrequited affection, but I was glad to see Hannah go off about how inappropriate that level of attention is.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie, although I don’t know that everyone else would. There are some recurring things you can watch out for, items that pop up over and over again and whatnot. Worth a watch on a rainy day, when you’re in the mood for something a little spooky.
P!S! I don’t do this feature often, but you can read Weird Movies #1 “Rubber” if you like this sort of thing.