The Double

The Double

"For you it's all a game. You're always playing."

When Giovanni (Jean Sorel) is shot by a mysterious bearded man in a parking garage, he flashes back to the events that led him to his demise. Living off his trust fund, he and his Italian girlfriend Lucia (Ewa Aulin) had a free-spirited life in Morocco, alternately making love and arguing due to his intense jealousy. But when Lucia's mother, Nora (Lucia Bosé) visits, Giovanni's lustful attention turns to her, though she seems more interested in a taciturn American hippie named Eddie (Sergio Doria). As Giovanni lays dying, his memories mix with his fantasies. Did he kill Eddie in Morocco or did Nora kill him in Rome? Who is the mysterious bearded man and what does he want? Is Nora having an affair? It may already be too late to find out the answers.

Much like it's protagonist's life, The Double is a messy, confusing, unresolved thing. The idea of a narrative spun out from a dying man's memories comes from another, much better Jean Sorel giallo, Short Night of the Glass Dolls. But instead of focusing on an elaborate mystery, The Double is a serious, arty, and meandering examination of one man's moral contradictions and his inability to commit to a relationship, a family, a career, or home. And, likewise, his mind often diverges into fantasy, showing that he can't even commit to a single version of past events. Giovanni is a nomad in every aspect of his life. This movie wants to use the giallo format to say important things about man's existential crisis during the unraveling of social fabric in the late 20th Century but, unfortunately, it works as neither a serious drama nor as a riveting thriller. It would have worked better if they had either focused on making a contemplative Malick-esque film without the genre conventions or jettisoned the arty pretense and created a high-suspense Hitchcockian thriller. Ultimately, the movie fails by trying to cover both bases at once.

  • The title The Double doesn't make any sense, but it's probably a mis-translation of the original Italian title, La Controfigura. A better translation might be The Wrong Man.
  • You may remember Sergio Doria from his small role in The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire. I mostly remember him because of the awesome jacket he wore in that movie.
  • lists Jean Sorel's character as "Giovanni" but in the movie, he's called "Frank."
  • During one of their arguments, Giovanni/Frank refers to Lucia as his wife but, later on, he is surprised when Nora tells him that Lucia is eager to marry him. This could be a case of an unreliable narrator, as we see throughout the film, but I think it's probably a genuine goof.
  • The phone in Lucia's Rome apartment is orange, not red. So close.
What the Hell am I Watching?

There are no fewer than two naked swimming scenes.

Early on, a group of locals crowds around the body of a dead man that has washed up on the beach. Our main characters are there and share meaningful looks. This is never addressed again in the movie. Who was he? How did he die? How does it tie in to the story? Did it really happen?

So who killed Eddie? How did he die? We get no answers.

Fashion Moment

Lucia is young, rich, thin, and Italian in the 1970's and that's a Venn diagram that leads to some adventurous high fashion. For example:

It's not a great shot, but she's wearing a flesh-colored bikini top with a matching fringed sarong.

Note the ominous yellow beach blanket.

Lucia gets funky for a night on the town in this purple velvet blouse and comically oversized hat.

In line at the breakfast buffet she's wearing that same bikini top, paired with a lace-up leather bondage collar.

And back in Rome, she goes full-on drag queen with a brunette bob wig, sheer blouse with flower appliques, and a pound of clown makeup.


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