Film: The Double

"I don't want to be a wooden boy, held up by strings."

The Double is a 2013 black comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, loosely based on a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky of the same name. Directed by Richard Ayoade, it focus on the life of Simon James (Eisenberg), a shy, unconfident man. Despite being a good worker for seven years, he's so forgettable that his boss still calls him Stanley. He has a... crush on coworker Hannah (Wasikowska), who is barely aware of his existence.

Simon's life is shaken up by the arrival of a new worker, James Simon (Eisenberg), a confident and charismatic man who happens to be his exact double. James takes the office by storm, despite hardly knowing what the company does, and gains the attention of Hannah. At first Simon and James work together, but things soon fall apart, and Simon's life begins to spiral out of control.

The Double contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Socially, James is a complete dynamo. He's a bit book-dumb, but Simon still latches onto him early on because he's so successful when he's working with the same basic material (looks) as Simon.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Simon's boss, who he's worked for for seven years, still calls him “Stanley” because he's just so forgettable.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Hannah often feels this way. So does Simon. James pretends to by taking Simon's words when trying to woo Hannah.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: James, as it turns out. He quickly befriends Simon, but then takes advantage of him.
  • Black Comedy: It's a noir, absurd world, and it's very hard not to laugh at some of Simon's misfortune.
  • Blackmail: James slept with Mr. Papadopoulos' daughter, and took photos. As he looks identical to Simon, he uses them to blackmail him.
  • Born Unlucky: Simon. Not only are the majority of characters rude to him for no reason, but even the machines seem to hate him. He is, after all, The Chew Toy.
  • Call Back: Simon and James share a little wave at the end, like the one shared by Simon and the jumper.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Simon gently kicks an elevator out of frustration. It sets off an alarm and he gets written up. James does the same and the elevator starts working.
  • The Casanova: James probably sleeps with half the women in the movie.
  • The Charmer: James. He wins people over quite effortlessly.
  • The Chew Toy: Before the movie, Simon is abused by pretty much everyone around him, his office treats him like dirt, and the girl who he likes barely knows he exists. It gets worse over the course of the movie as James actively makes him looks bad, takes the girl he likes gets him fired, and his mother dies.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Simon, of all people, starts swearing when James turns everyone at the office against him.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: At the end of the movie, it looks like Simon is going to steal James' life.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: After realising that he and James share injuries, Simon jumps off the apartment building in a way that he should survive, provided he gets to the hospital soon. He called the ambulance for himself before he jumped, but no one's going to find James for a long time.
  • Dirty Coward: James. He's incredibly selfish and climbs ranks using trickery and blackmail, not caring what it does to Simon, and when Simon physically threatens him at his mother's funeral, he tries to hide behind whatever girl he brought with him rather than face Simon head-on.
  • Doppelgänger: The premise of the film; Simon and James look exactly identical. It's never explained why this is, but as they share their injuries, there's presumably something supernatural at work.
  • Driven to Suicide: James drives both Hannah and Simon to this.
  • Evil Twin: James steals Simon's work and destroys his life by framing him.
  • Foil: Simon and James are pretty much polar opposites in every way, which in turn makes the difference more obvious.
  • Foreshadowing: The scene with the jumper and the cops near the start foreshadows Simon's plan at the end.
  • Identical-Looking Asians: When it's pointed out that James and Simon are identical, Simon's coworker says that they're not even Chinese.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Simon's company is staffed with horribly incompetent people, is wildly inefficient, and doesn't seem to do anything. It's rather telling that James becomes successful when he literally doesn't know what the company does, while Simon is constantly abused.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: The Chinese restaurant blares Japanese music.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Simon is about to jump out of a window, when he notices that Hannah has attempted suicide and rushes to save her. She's not grateful for his success.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: In-Universe, the man who calls Simon to inform him of his mother's death has trouble pronouncing “cerebral”. As in, the cerebral accident which killed her.
  • No Social Skills: Simon's incredibly timid and has trouble speaking to other people at all. This is to contrast with James, who is great with social situations and getting people to like him.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Quite a few of them in Simon's workplace, but especially the security guard. He makes Simon fill out a form to get into work every single day, and won't let Simon in until he shows him the form the guard just watched him fill out.
  • Only Sane Man: The similarity between Simon and James is commented upon precisely once by other characters, and only after severe prodding by Simon.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Mia's slips here and there, such as when she says the word "stalking."
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Found throughout the film. It's more obvious in some scenes than others, such as the ones in the photocopy room, where the lighting is exclusively blue and orange.
  • Playing Cyrano: James plays Cyrano while Simon is on a date with Hannah (Hannah thinks Simon is James at this point). James is in the bathroom with a radio to Simon. Given James' Bitch in Sheep's Clothing nature, it's entirely possible he botched the date on purpose.
  • Popular Is Dumb: James is great with people, but not so much with the book smarts. He doesn't even know what the company does.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Simon/James' boss is fairly incompetent and a Horrible Judge of Character.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Simon is shy and reserved, while James gets into fights and, as mentioned above, probably sleeps with half of the women in the movie.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Simon goes out of his way to talk to Hannah at work, follows her as she goes home, and has a telescope pointed at her apartment.
  • Those Two Guys: The two officers who deal with all the suicides in the area.
  • Twin Switch: Simon and James switch places multiple times on a date with Hannah.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: Simon is missing from the office computer system, and is told that he does not exist as a result. To get back into the system, he needs a worker card, which he can't get without being in the system.
  • Weasel Co-Worker: James doesn't know or care what the company does, but is a massive success due to his charisma. Simon is persuaded to take his aptitude test and do most of his work for him. When James' can't persuade Simon anymore, he simply blackmails him.