I saw the movie The Double this morning, a very strange movie. I didn't understand the exact plot of the movie. I've read the plot in IMDB and Wikipedia too, but I don't get it. Can somebody explain this movie in simple English? My main question is "Who is James and does he really exist?"
The Wiki page seems to have quite a bit of detail on this Wikipedia page and as it is based on the novella The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and adapted by Richard Ayoade there is a good chance that just like Submarine (2010) it may be a little "out there". There is also an interview he did on the Guardian website that might shed a little light on his ideas.
Richard makes a point that Simon’s concerns over his doppelgänger do not seem to concern others and that is an unusual that they are not bothered. The comedy is that his concern is of no bother to anyone else. He makes a point that "Darth Vader is in all of us and I remember that every time I shower" which he makes a reference to how people feel about ghost stories and that they can either be the literal (as in there may be a vampire) or the psychological (that there could be vampire like tendencies that are within us) that can be attributed to how Simon sees the doppelgänger and is almost the thoughts and actions of what James would not feel or believe that he can do/say.
Putting it simply, the movie is shot through the mind of Simon. He sees James as the man he wants to be as he does and says things that he wishes he could. James only exists in his mind, where we see two people in the movie is where his condition shows through.
After this exchange Simon then explains his reaction to the way James spoke to the Waitress and James responds:
James does not really exist. As someone mentioned in the comments, this movie is very much a "Fight Club"-type movie, where the main character develops a split personality. If you notice, in the beginning of the movie he sort of slowly comes unglued through interaction with people, including the nursing home where someone says something about him not being right in the head or something. One clear indication is the names of the characters and their symbolism; Simon James and James Simon. Each name is a complete reverse, much like their personalities. Simon James is somewhat meek and unassuming, whereas James Simon is very outward and confident. It's the whole Yin-Yang thing with the characters.
As for explaining the movie or the plot, I'm not sure I can do that. I'd have to watch it again to figure that part out, I was just trying to figure out the characters when I watched it.
The film is clearly ambiguous never really giving you a complete answer to the question is James real. It seems heavily sided that he isn't real but with no conclusive evidence, here is what i found to try and make the plot and the final situation a little bit simpler to understand.
Seeing as how the film is based on the book by Dostoyevsky i think the best reference point is to start with analysising how that book was interpreted.
The Major trend in scholarship is that many have said that Golyadkin(Simon) simply goes insane, probably with schizophrenia. This view is supported by much of the text, particularly Golyadkin's innumerable hallucinations.
It is although never confirmed in the book but Richard Ayoade could have turned this. Unlike Fight Club bost formats do not give a major hint to this, so there is no simple way to decide, both sources have given the viewer/reader their own opinion and let them make the decision, although the general consenses is that the main character goes mad and he has both personalities, i think the fact in the film the character is called "Simon James" backs this opinion up.