Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) paints a depressing picture: he is a history teacher who spends his time at college, goes home, grades papers, has sex with his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent), repeat. Nothing changes, there is nothing exciting. A colleague of his at work asks if he watches any movies, and as stunted as his social skills may be, Adam realises he is trying to make conversation. He rents the movie that his colleague recommends, and is shocked to see a man in there that looks just like him. Adam is interested, and does some more research on the actor he saw online, seeing that the man is not an overly successful actor, but an actor nonetheless. He rents more movies featuring Daniel St. Claire (also Jake Gyllenhaal). Adam’s relationship with Mary is suffering due to his obsession.
Tracking down the agency that Daniel St. Claire works with, Adam stops by there, where he gets some mail from the desk clerk. Through the mail, Adam learns that Daniel St. Claire’s real name is Anthony Claire. He successfully manages to stalk Anthony, ultimately phoning his wife, Helen (Sarah Gadon), who thinks that Anthony is playing a terrible joke on her. Through persistence, Adam manages to talk to Anthony, whom he attempts to convince to meet with him. Anthony vehemently refuses, though later decides that they should meet. Helen is doing some investigating of her own, and meets with Adam, who is unwittingly aware that Helen is Anthony’s pregnant wife.
The two men finally meet up together at a hotel, where things just go crazy. The two men are perfect and identical copies of one another, which in turn robs both of them of their identities, spinning both their lives completely out of control. Who is Adam? Who is Anthony? Why are they identical? Will Adam be able to continue with his bland and boring life after he has had a glimpse of Anthony’s? Who are they if they are so identical that even their lovers cannot tell them apart? What is going on?
I know this is a little bit of a ridiculously short review, but I cannot say too much and I really, really don’t want to spoil it if you have yet to see it. This was something that Joseph and Mark rather enjoyed, that Eric enjoyed but was not completely certain how much, and that Rob absolutely hated. I was very interested to see what would come of this seeing as I was a huge fan of Villeneuve’s Prisoners, and I enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal (even though Natasha can see no merits in the man). Now, I was not really sure what would come of this. I roughly knew what it was about, but this was still a journey unto itself. It is phenomenally shot though extremely depressing, everything is washed out and oppressive and dark and dreary, which totally worked for the story that it was trying to convey. Then there was the soundtrack, that just had your teeth on edge for the entire duration of the film and aims to freak you out to your very core, and mostly succeeds with this. Then there are these creepy spider shots that come up from time to time, and leave you feeling just a little chilled. Gyllenhaal gave another solid performance, and successfully managed to embody the essence of two different men. You could clearly see which one he was due to the totally difference characteristics and actions the men had, as well as the way they presented themselves and held themselves. The plot is confusing and constantly twisting, and you need to keep your wits about you, but I must say that I enjoyed it. The cinematography was absolutely stunning. Adam’s obsession with Anthony is a little extreme, though if you think about it you could understand how it could get there. I love how the doppelgängers lived completely different lives and had virtually nothing in common. However, this movie really screwed with my head, and I can see how the conclusion will split people into groups of loving it, hating it, or just not giving a damn and feeling like their time may have been wasted. Either way, this is a movie I would recommend so that you can sit around and scratch your head when all is said and done, theorizing on your own about the multitude of probabilities the film presents.