I don’t usually watch a movie and have the word “misogyny” come to mind. The way the women in this were treated was a tad disturbing, though. But this is a movie that wants to disturb you. Nothing wrong with that. The filmmaker just went about it the wrong way. That filmmaker would be Denis Villeneuve who used Jake Gyllenhaal in his last movie – the thriller Prisoners. In this, Gyllenhaal plays a bored college professor in Toronto, who on the advice of a colleague, rents a movie. In that movie, he notices a bell hop is played by an actor that looks just like him (played also by Gyllenhaal). He then becomes obsessed with tracking the actor down. I was a bit confused as to why an actor that was listed in the credits as “bell boy #3” would have a big agent, and get fan mail and calls, etc. The character could’ve been a bell boy that had a few lines, which would’ve made more sense. Yet there are much bigger complaints with this movie. Another that comes to mind is a pet peeve I have in many movies that have menacing characters. You wonder why the person being threatened doesn’t just call the police.
This film isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is, yet critics and pretentious filmgoers will wind to rave about what an abstract and great mindf*** the whole affair was.
It’s a shame that the two women – Melanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon – are both wasted in these roles. One plays a bored girlfriend, the other an angry, pregnant wife. They’re merely there to make pouty facial expressions and endure bad sex.
The two lookalikes finally meet, in a scene that was stolen right out of No Country For Old Men. It’s in a hotel room for some strange reason; as if they’re going to have an affair with each other. Instead, it seems they want to have affairs with the others girl.
I did like the moody atmosphere, and the strings in the score worked well.
I didn’t read the Jose Saramago novel this was based on, but as I watched it, I just thought of all the other movies that had similar themes but were done better. That would include The Passenger, Dead Ringers, Fight Club, Body Double, Moon, Eyes Wide Shut, and Face/Off. Yes, that cheesy Nicolas Cage movie is better than this.
Now, had David Cronenberg or David Lynch done this doppelganger drama, we may have had something. I wonder if Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet) felt the same way when she filmed her one scene.
Despite fun performances from Gyllenhaal, and a final shot that is brilliant, scary, and thought provoking – I can’t give this more than 2 stars out of 5.