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Theme of the Month: Doppelgänger

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Courtesy of B. Turk

Courtesy of B. Turk

Courtesy of B. Turk


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Theme of the Month is an article series designed to investigate the best films that fall under a certain category. This month focuses on the topic of “dopplegängers,” the German word that translates roughly to “double-goer:” a person who could look exactly like you.

 

  1. “The Double” (2013)

Simon’s balanced life, often spent sitting at the typewriter and gazing at love interest Hannah, is upset by the arrival of his exact physical double (but polar opposite socialite): a man who’s savvy, well-liked, and charismatic with women.

Played with blank-face monotony by seasoned actor Jesse Eisenberg, Simon instantly connects with the audience (despite his somewhat creepy shortcomings), enveloping the viewer in an original world that shines with originality.

Sound design is used uniquely as well. For example, when a piano note is played on the left side of the stereo, a corresponding one is put on the right. Every part has its “double,” portrayed in both visuals and audio, which helps to strengthen some of the more interesting world-building in recent memory.

Check out the trailer: https://youtu.be/XG8qATRtNuU

 

2. “Enemy” (2013)

Before blockbuster hits such as “Blade Runner: 2049” and “Arrival,” there was “Enemy.” Director Denis Villeneuve used to be a much more reserved filmmaker, opting for tense, strained thrillers instead of the loud science-fiction we see today.

Polite college professor Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) lives quietly, usually alone in his desolate apartment. One day, he rents a movie (“Where There’s a Will There’s a Way”) and sees an actor that resembles him flawlessly. Adam begins to stalk his double, briefly calling the man’s wife and eventually meeting him in person.

Dripping with visual metaphors (for instance, the sky covered with trolley wires, sinisterly representing a spider’s web), the film features no jumpscares throughout its 90-minute runtime. It moves at a confident pace, the tension slowly dragging along with the audience’s dread.

Set in a claustrophobic Toronto cityscape, with burnt autumn colors by cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc, “Enemy” is a paranoiac slow-burner that could sting you if you’re not paying attention.  

Check out the trailer: https://youtu.be/FJuaAWrgoUY

 

3. “Mulholland Dr.” (2001)

“A love story in the city of dreams…”

To say much about “Mulholland Dr.” is to spoil the experience. Know this: Hollywood newcomer Betty crosses paths with Rita, an amnesiac brunette with no recollection of her past. What follows is a mysterious plot that unfolds like the faint scent of a whisper filled with smoke…

Director David Lynch is famous for providing little to no information about his films, choosing instead to let the viewer make sense of the confusing stories in front of them. “Mulholland Dr.” is no different in this regard; you’ll find pretty much no official statements attempting to decipher the movie, often for good reason. The experience is much more personal than taking everything at face value: plots in “Mulholland Dr.” start and end like the director’s dreams, the doppelgänger theme only a supplement to the bigger picture.

Lynch provides a rare opportunity for the average audience. For once, there is no spoon-fed information, just interpretations. Some hate this approach, others love it, but there is no denying it is wholly unique.

Check out the trailer: https://youtu.be/XQ5Q0CHQ0EU

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