|SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK|
dir Denis Villeneuve
scr Javier Gullon
prd Niv Fichman, Miguel A Faura
with Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Josh Peace, Tim Post, Kedar Brown, Darryl Dinn, Misha Highstead, Megan Mane, Alexis Uiga, Jane Moffat
release US 14.Mar.14, UK 2.Jan.15
13/Canada Pathe 1h31
Face-off: Gyllenhaal and Gyllenhaal
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Ambitious and inventive, this dark mystery thriller centres on a guy who meets his doppelganger, and the title more than hints that these two men won't become friends. But this isn't a straightforward story, and while the psychological angles make it sharply intriguing, they also make it somewhat hard to unpack.
Adam (Gyllenhaal) is a Toronto history professor whose routine life includes his gorgeous but busy girlfriend Mary (Laurent). Then while watching a movie one night, he spots an actor who looks just like him. A bit of investigation leads him to Daniel Saint Claire (also Gyllenhaal), real name Anthony, whose wife Helen (Gadon) is six months pregnant. Adam's mother (Rossellini) assures him he doesn't have a long-lost twin. And things begin to turn freaky when Adam and Anthony meet up and realise that they even have the same scars.
With a big score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, the film is moody, sexy and constantly insinuating, flickering to dreams, movie clips and creepy cutaways that suggest a dark inner life for Adam and an even more sinister secret world for Anthony. It's clear early on that the filmmakers don't intend to explain what every element means, only offering stylised touches that hint at how to interpret the story.
Gyllenhaal gives two distinct performances: the likeable Adam is a hapless and gentle Volvo driver, while the shadier Anthony is an aggressive, sparky biker. They may look exactly the same, but these are very different people, and of course the central idea is that this is one man confronting his own dual nature. Although this leaves the film feeling oddly mopey, because Adam's passivity makes him initially difficult to engage with. But both characters deepen, as do Laurent and Gadon in textured, fascinating roles.
Director Villeneuve and writer Gullon (adapting Jose Saramago's novel The Double) boldly assemble this as a sort of fever dream, an odyssey of two men confronting their own realities. It's a suspenseful, unpredictable film packed with drama and emotion, and a lot of intriguing uncertainty. But is it the agonised internal struggle of a father-to-be or a bored teacher? Or maybe it's about an actor playing a role? Or an academic worried that he's censoring his life too much? At least this open-handed approach leaves the themes rattling around provocatively.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
|Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.|
© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK