British actor turned director Richard Ayoade follows up his sublime debut Submarine with the altogether different – but equally as excellent – The Double. His adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1846 novella, co-written with Avi Korine swaps the bleak suburbs of Swansea for the anonymous streets of small town USA and, while protagonist Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) may suffer from the same lack of confidence as Submarine’s Oliver (Craig Roberts, who appears here in cameo), this literal identity crisis is less coming of age social comedy and more dystopian neo-noir.
Just as he did with the Samurai genre in 1999’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, writer/director Jim Jarmusch now gives us an entirely different perspective on the vampire movie. A sparkling script and charismatic cast injects a new burst of life into a genre that’s become pallid and toothless thanks to blood-sucking franchises and adolescent fantasies and, together with Neil Marshall’s recent Byzantium, resurrects the vampire as an entirely adult anti-hero.
In shadowy close-up, alone on a smoky club stage in 1960s New York City, the titular Mr Davis (Oscar Isaac) sings a plaintive version of Dave Van Ronk’s ‘Hang Me, Oh Hang Me’. Accompanied only by his guitar, his stunning voice soars over the melancholy lyrics, emotion etched into his face.It’s a haunting, intimate and powerful on-screen introduction, and effortlessly sets the scene for a remarkable film that is both amusing character study and profound treatise about unrealised ambition, the cruel nature of fate and the omnipresent possibility of failure.