Anything worth doing is worth doing twice. At least in Hollywood. Which is why Jake Gyllenhall and Jesse Eisenberg are playing doppelgangers. Well, maybe not in the same film. But Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessie Eisenberg are both playing characters who deal with the unforeseen consequences of encountering their double in films being released in the next month.
The doppelganger trope can be an interesting one as long as the actor can hold the audience’s attention. For example, Adaptation, featuring Nicolas Cage, works both because Charlie Kaufman’s script was in excellent hands with Spike Jonze and because Cage can chew up the screen when he can be bothered to.
With Gyllenhall’s Enemy and Eisenberg’s The Double, coming out back-to-back comparisons are inevitable. At first blush it is Eisenberg who will have the harder time of it.
The Double, is directed by Richard Ayoade, whom you may have seen in The IT Crowd but hopefully didn’t see in The Watch. The critically acclaimed Submarine is the one feature film under his belt. The script for The Double is inspired by Dostoevsky and Ayoade takes writing credit which hopefully is a good sign.
The writing will have to be smart because this is not the type of film that Jessie Eisenberg has shown he is capable of carrying. In The Social Network he played a cypher and in Zombieland he played a geek with a gun. Most of the characters he has played in the past have been walking sets of mannerisms. Can he make the characters he plays in The Double distinct outside of their tics? I have my doubts but I will still be giving this one a whirl when it comes out:
Hitting the theaters a few weeks earlier is Jake Gyllenhall’s Enemy. The film is based on a novel by José Saramago and is the second collaboration in a row with director Denis Villeneuve whom Gyllenhall just completed The Prisoners with. I’m partial to Gyllenhall because he is in two of my favorite films: Zodiac and Donnie Darko. Just looking at his acting resume with those films and others like Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead, it is clear he can hold the audience’s attention. I’m hopeful that with Villeneuve’s guidance lighting will strike twice. Here is the trailer: