Have you noticed a number of recent movies about doubles and doppelgängers lately? Could it be a product of the Internet Age, where our online personas act as doppelgängers, as this article in The Atlantic suggests? Is there new interest in existentialism among the philosophically curious? Or is it just a coincidence? Whatever the case may be, check out these four new films that will have you seeing double.
It takes flawless direction and cinematography to have an actor play against themselves; not only do these two films achieve that, but they also successfully translate two complex novels to the big screen. In Enemy, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam, a dour history professor who becomes obsessed with his doppelgänger Anthony, a low-rent actor he spots in a B-movie. Adapted from Jose Saramago’s novel The Double, the film is a masterful exercise in tension – but what would you expect from Denis Villenueve, director of last year’s nightmarish but excellent Prisoners? Another worthy film to consider is The Double, adapted from the novella of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Here, we find Jesse Eisenberg playing Simon, an insecure wallflower who finds his double, the confident outgoing James, taking over his life at work as well as with the woman he’s admired from afar. Director Richard Ayoade brings a slightly lighter touch to the heavy themes being explored.
A pair of movies from indie focused IFC Films explore the same subject with wildly different results. In The Face of Love, Annette Bening plays Nikki, a widower who lost her husband Garrett (Ed Harris) five years earlier, only to find Tom – his exact double – at an art gallery. The ghost of Garrett haunts Nikki as she embarks on a second chance at love in late middle-age. For something completely different, you may want to check out the frenetic Plus One, about three friends who go to a party that goes completely haywire when an freak event gives the party goers their very own doppelgängers. This trippy little movie – part teen comedy, part sci-fi – will have you guessing until the end.
Want more? Here’s a list of movies you can check out now about doppelgängers, doubles and clones, culled from a list put out by the folks at The Playlist at IndieWire. And if a two-hour movie isn’t your thing, consider Orphan Black, the critically acclaimed sci-fi TV series about a woman who discovers she has a series of clones who are being systematically killed by an assassin.