What would you do if you encountered your exact double, a doppelganger who looks just like you but is completely opposite in nature? This is the question asked in the thriller "Doppelganger," a Japanese film coming to DVD this Tuesday.
Is it horror? Is it suspense? Is it neither? These questions, unfortunately, loom greater than any question director Kiyoshi Kurosawa wanted to put forward, as "Doppelganger" isn't scary enough to qualify as horror, isn't exciting enough to be an engaging thriller and isn't clear enough to let us know what Kurosawa intended. Well-acted and interesting for a time, "Doppelganger" had the chance to be something great, but its short running time feels way too long, among other problems.
The movie is about an inventor named Michio Hayasaki who is working on a robotic chair meant for paraplegic patients. His research has led him to the verge of breakdown, but he keeps much of his emotions within. One day, his doppelganger suddenly appears, willing to do the things he wanted to do but never did. Of course, things get out of hand and Hayasaki soon realizes there is only way to rid himself of his double.
The concept is interesting, but is executed to lackluster results. Kurosawa obviously is a talented director who is willing to do offbeat stories, but I wasn't impressed. The direction is almost too simple, despite the presence of some rather pointless split screen shots. The look of the film is so bland that had I not needed to watch the subtitles, I could have enjoyed it just as much with my eyes closed.
More than anything else, "Doppelganger" is just too weird for me. The last half hour is especially strange, but not in the way you'd expect. The final act is so out of place I could have sworn I accidentally switched DVDs in my sleep. The movie seems to kick into crime thriller mode as the various characters fight over the robotic chair, which really doesn't fulfill the point of the movie at all.
That being said, "Doppelganger" does have its moments. It's a clever movie for a while and raises some interesting questions. Unfortunately, I never really accepted the severe differences that were supposed to be apparent between the two versions of the lead character. The doppelganger just wasn't as dark as I was expecting and at times it was difficult to tell them apart.
For those who like weird movies like "Solaris," "Doppelganger" might be of interest, but, despite its concept, it's just an ordinary, mediocre thriller.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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