Based on Nobel-laureate José Saramago's novel, "The Double", Prisoners' director Denis Villeneuve has given us another meditative/existentialist, slightly unconventional movie starring his previous lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal in an astoundingly restrained but completely absorbing dual-role.

Adapted from a rather famous novel by Javier Gullón, the unconventional plot and narrative forces the audience to think and debate the meaning of what they had just saw. Even with foreknowledge from the book, the writer and director had wisely chosen to bring their own version of this age-old tale of the doppelgänger/clones to the big screen, and throughout the slim 90 minutes run-time, we are left to wonder is this going to be a sci-fi, fantasy or a psychological thriller.

Villeneuve portrayed the city as a mirror to the mind of a broken man. But is this man broken? And if so, how badly? However, the over-abundance use of quick cuts and edits felt a bit too cheap and gimmicky, especially after his more sure-footed direction in Prisoners. This felt at times like an art/indie-student trying too hard to copy the signatures of his favourite auteurs - I get a sense of Wong Kar Wai here. In addition, the score was a very poor fit. It ended up being too distracting to what was happening on screen, and it seemed more to show the lack of confidence the director has with his directing and his stars. Although unless this discordant is purposeful, but even so, it does not eliminate the fact that it distracts rather than complements.

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a brilliant performance. He is getting to be that rare breed of A-lister who is a looker and yet also a character actor. Without a doubt, some industry recognition would be coming his way soon. And in the same year that this movie was released, Gyllenhaal undoubtedly gave a more intense and more absorbing performance than Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club.

The rare film that makes you think, ponder and debate, and a great star that keeps you focused on the screen.    


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