Have you ever seen The IT Crowd? How about Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace? No? Well, if you have a sense of humor, you should probably do whatever you possibly can to watch these TV shows. Anyway, what these shows have in common is Richard Ayoade—who is a genius of a filmmaker.
His first feature film screened at Sundance 2012 (and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011). It was called “Submarine”. It’s up on Netflix, so queue that shit.
Ayoade might be one of the most hilarious men alive, but he’s also one of the most thoughtful and meticulous directors of all time. I know, lots of swooping praise for this guy, but once you see his broad range of work and how he masters each genre, you’ll see what I mean.
Submarine was likened to a “British Wes Anderson film, but less pretentious”. While I agree, in part, to that kind of review, I think what Ayoade is doing is much more accessible than Anderson. Ayoade has a love of the attention to detail and moments that Anderson makes…awkward. You can tell Ayoade has a meticulousness to his design—each frame is carefully crafted, and the movie flows so gracefully. He really is a masterful director.
The Double is his follow up feature to Submarine. It’s based on the novel by Dostoyevsky. A lot of people reviewed the film as being a bit dark and depressing; these people CLEARLY haven’t read a page of Dostoyevsky ever. Of freaking course the film is dark, but it has it’s comical moments. What do you expect from an adaptation of a story from Dostoyevsky?!!
If you’ve ever disliked Jesse Eisenberg that will likely change with this film. He does a phenomenal job of playing two completely different characters against himself. He’s so good at projecting a completely different persona, that you can tell just by looking at a silent frame who is James and who is Simon. I was impressed.
I think what I loved most about this film was the design. Ayoade chose to place the film in this completely ambiguous setting. You’re not sure if this is the distant future, or a futuristic past. Everything is very dark and “steam-punk”-esque. If you’ve ever seen a film designed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Michael Caro, you’ll get hints of that all over this film. (City of Lost Children, Delicatessen) I’m a HUGE fan of Jeunet and Caro’s work…so naturally this was creative design I could get behind.
Should you see this film? Absolutely. It’s a work of art. Just, you know, prepare to be Kafka-d.