I can see why Jake Gyllenhaal wanted to act in this movie. It must be a challenge to play two people with the same face and beard. The psychological problems with a man seeing his double and wanting to get to know him are huge. What does it mean that there is an identical twin living in the same town more or less with a very similar looking blonde woman partner? What would you do if you found out that there is someone who looks just like you living up the street. Wouldn’t you want to take a closer look?
My problem with the movie is that it takes an hour to get to this point. The fifty nine minutes before this are slowly devoid of not only interest but color and energy. While Gyllenhall, whose first doppelganger name in the movie is Adam Bell, gets to the point where he asks his twin what is going on, we in the audience are suffering from sensual deprivation. This comes from watching shots of the grey landscape, uninteresting clothes, and desultory lectures he teaches at the university in a not terribly coherent way. The soundtrack is jarring, strings not unlike the beginning of the Jaws theme, suddenly cut off, then outside sounds being heard inside (like traffic in the living room), inside sounds being heard outside. Nothing makes sense. And it is all so grey, except for the sex which is either labored and cut short suddenly, or in scary dream settings with slightly sadistic horror flavors.
The town is Toronto with a few scenes in Mississauga. The lighting of the towers makes them grey, without variation or form, except a space era tower with ellipsis at the top, and the plazas are void of people, activity, life. It is as if the whole thing is taking place in Gyllenhaal’s head. Perhaps that is what is happening. Can it mean that there is no outer meaning, only inner thoughts?
After the movie, I thought perhaps nothing was real. It was all in my head. As my friend and I were leaving the theater, a woman asked the usher, but what does it mean, and he answered with some impatience, that is the whole point of it really that it only means what you want it to mean. It is open to your own interpretation.
I prefer a different kind of a movie, but as that kind of a movie goes, I guess you can say it accomplishes what it sets out to do. Gyllenhaal plays both parts very well, and he is worth watching, but I hope that he gets some less dreary fare soon.