The Double (2013 film)

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The Double
UK release poster
Directed by Richard Ayoade
Produced by
  • Robin C. Fox
  • Amina Dasmal
Written by
  • Richard Ayoade
  • Avi Korine
Based on The Double 
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Music by Andrew Hewitt
Cinematography Erik Wilson
Edited by
Alcove Entertainment
British Film Institute
Distributed by StudioCanal UK
(United Kingdom)
Release date(s)
  • 7 September 2013 (2013-09-07) (TIFF)
  • 4 April 2014 (2014-04-04) (United Kingdom)
Running time 93 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $1,452,099[1][2]

The Double is a 2014 British black comedy film written and directed by Richard Ayoade and starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska. The film is based on the novella The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It is about a man who is driven nearly to breakdown after finding out his life has been usurped by a doppelgänger.[3] The film was produced by Alcove Entertainment, with Michael Caine, Graeme Cox (Attercop), Tessa Ross (Film4) and Nigel Williams as executive producers.


Exiting a tube train, Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) gets his briefcase caught in the door and does not successfully retrieve it as the train rushes off. Going into work, he is forced to start signing in without his proper ID badge, which had been in his briefcase. Once inside the workstation, he tries to talk his boss (Wallace Shawn) into using some ideas for the business. While walking, Simon learns he will be tutoring his boss' daughter, Melanie (Yasmin Paige).

While visiting his mother (Phyllis Somerville) in a nursing home, he encounters another resident who claims he is "not right". Simon then goes to his apartment and spies on a co-worker he admires, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), who lives in the apartment diagonal from him, using a telescope set up in front of his window. Simon notices Hannah ripping and throwing away art and retrieves it. Bringing it to his apartment, he reassembles and admires it.

One night, Simon sees a man jump from a ledge the floor above Hannah; the man dies upon impact. Simon talks to detectives, who question him and explain that if the man had jumped a few feet to the right, he would have bounced off of an awning and landed on the cement, mangled but able to survive with immediate medical attention. Simon takes Hannah to a restaurant, where he gets a call from his mother. When he returns to the table he had been sitting at, he sees Hannah is gone but in a note she left she says she will see him later. Simon then trades his television in for money and buys a gift for Hannah.

At work, Simon hears his boss talking to a new person and goes out to see James Simon (Jesse Eisenberg), who looks identical to him. Simon faints, and, upon waking up sees everyone crowded around him, not noticing the similarities between him and James. Simon and James go to a bar, where Simon bumps into a drunk man who threatens to fight. James headbutts the man and knocks him out before he can engage. Simon and James run off and get on a train, where Simon explains his love for Hannah and says he feels invisible. Simon then brings James, who has fallen asleep, to his apartment and admires their similarities.

As James starts getting more respect at work, Hannah reveals she wants to go on a date with him. On the date, Simon pretends to be James with the real James telling him what to do and say via earpiece. When Simon becomes nervous, the two swap places and, upon retrieving Hannah, who has tried to leave, James kisses her in middle the restaurant as Simon watches. When taking a test for James, the two swap places again and James meets Melanie, who is seduced by his charm.

Fed up, Simon manages to call Hannah as if he is James and gets her to go to James' apartment - which is above hers - when James and Melanie are together. This ends James and Hannah's relationship and makes James furious. James blackmails Simon by saying he either gives James the key to his apartment or their boss sees dirty photos of "Simon" and Melanie. Simon gives up his key. When Hannah asks if she can use Simon's apartment to spy and see if James is cheating on her with anyone else, James says no because she is becoming obsessed. The truth is, James has Simon's only key. This turns Hannah against him. Going home to confront James, James tackles Simon into a wall and lightly grazes his throat with a knife.

The next day Simon gets angry when James tells a joke to a circle of employees, all who are laughing along. Simon accuses James of being an imposter, having stolen Simon's face. Simon has a tantrum, yelling many expletives. This results in Simon being fired. He then goes into his home with a new spare key and writes a suicide note, intending to kill himself by jumping from his window. Looking across the street, he sees Hannah on her bed, unconscious. Simon brings her to the hospital where he learns she overdosed on pills and miscarried from a sexual encounter with James. He takes her home where she suggests he kill himself. In her apartment she goes through the pockets of Simon's jacket and discovers he has kept a scrapbook of her trashed art.

Simon goes home and hears his mother has died through his answering machine. He runs to the funeral and punches James at the burial ceremony. In doing this he realises that he and James develop the same injuries. In self-defence, a priest knocks Simon into his mother's open grave with a shovel. Simon awakes later beside the buried grave and runs to Hannah and tells her he wants to be visible and noticed. Simon handcuffs a sleeping James to his bed and calls the suicide department and tells them someone is jumping to their death. Simon goes on the ledge above Hannah's apartment and walks to the right before jumping, when James awakens and looks through Simon's telescope to see Simon wave goodbye. Simon hits the awning and lands with severe injuries. Hannah runs to him and an ambulance arrives. James bleeds to death in the apartment. In the back of the ambulance with Hannah and the Colonel, the Colonel says Simon is special and Simon replies with a smile on his face: "I like to think I'm pretty unique."



In February 2012 it was reported that Richard Ayoade would direct The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, in the United Kingdom.[3][5] Principal photography began on 20 May 2012 in London.[4][6]


The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2013.[7][8][9] On 15 October 2013 it was announced that Magnolia Pictures had acquired the US rights to the film for a 2014 release.[10] The Double opened in two cinemas in the US and grossed $14,646. It ended up grossing $145,511 in North America and $1,306,588 internationally for a total of $1,452,099[11]


The Double has received positive reviews, gaining a "Certified Fresh" rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 109 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9 out of 10.[12]The film also has a score of 68 based on 31 reviews on metacritic.[13]

Jon Espino from gave the film 9 out of 10 stars, stating, "Writer/Director Richard Ayoade had really outdone himself. The way he re-imagined and modernized Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Double, is a pure artistic vision. The dark tones are only enhanced by the light notes of humor throughout the film. Ayoade's avant garde, experimental style and minimalist set design sound like an odd couple, but they actually work great together." He also goes on to praise Eisenberg's performance saying, "In his best work since The Social Network, Eisenberg portrays the polarized personalities of Simon and Jesse with such ease. The story basically rests on his shoulders as we follow him on his descent into madness. In between the fast-paced dialogue and front-lit shots there is also a very complex story that leaves the ending open to interpretation." [14]


  1. ^
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  3. ^ a b Kemp, Stuart (1 February 2012). "Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska Join The Double Cast". The Hollywood Reporter (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Richard Ayoade Starts Production On New Project The Double This Month". The Playlist (IndieWire). 11 May 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Kemp, Stuart (9 February 2012). "Berlin 2012: Studiocanal Takes U.K. Rights to Richard Ayoade's The Double". The Hollywood Reporter (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Drummond, Andrew (21 May 2012). "Wasikowska makes Cannes touchdown". Australian Associated Press (ninemsn). Archived from the original on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Punter, Jeannie (23 July 2013). "Toronto International Film Festival Unveils Lineup". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Toronto film festival 2013: the full line-up". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). 23 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Double". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Magnolia Grabs Rights to Ayoade's Double Plus Two UK Posters". Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
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