Screenwriter Avi Korine’s second film, The Double (recently released on DVD and Blu-ray), is a grim, surprisingly funny spin on Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name, starring a pair of Jesse Eisenbergs and directed and co-written by Richard Ayoade (Submarine, The Watch).
The palette is gray, the humor is black, the protagonist can’t be trusted. I think I heard it described as Catch-22 meets Office Space, which is a start, but The Double somehow feels even bleaker than those stories. The horrors of war dwarf any one man’s struggle, of course, but at least Yossarian was (ostensibly) part of a larger fight against the Nazis: a larger cause. Simon’s plight feels not just hopeless and absurd but pointless and small in a way that Yossarian’s and even Peter Gibbons’ never did—which might belie the fact that The Double is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.
Korine says the film and its source material ask, “How can we stay sane and human in an insane and inhuman world?” We spoke about Dostoevsky, Ayoade, and leaving the casting to the professionals.
EVAN ALLGOOD: What was the hardest part of adapting Dostoevsky’s novella into a screenplay?
AVI KORINE: Well, I guess I never really thought I was adapting the novella, more like I was inspired by it, using the frame and a bit of the tone and feel of the characters. I find writing anything terribly hard, and working on this was at times painfully difficult.
Dostoevsky’s The Double is incredible—as all of his works are—but it was written early in his career and has a bit of a wild and unfinished feel for me. Maybe that’s why it didn’t feel as fraught as using The Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment as inspiration might have, something I could never really imagine doing.