DOPPELGANGER is one of those deliciously off-beat films that, barring a name filmmaker or star, have an annoying tendency to fly under the radar of most film lovers. It starts out as an interesting, if somewhat formulaic horror tale about a scientist (Koji Yakusho) who may or may not be going insane after his assistant tells him about a friend?s brush with the eponymous supernatural creature. Slowly, seemingly inevitably, it evolves into a merciless satire about the struggle to live an authentic life in a plastic world where the moral compass is spinning wildly. The shift is seamless and, impressively, doesn?t leave the horror element behind. In point of fact, it plays up the most horrifying elements of real life in a way that makes a phantom double come off as a lesser worry.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa creates a similar evolution with the mood, using carefully composed shots of order to contrast the irrationality of the supernatural and using that as a jumping off point to plunge the story and the visuals into chaos. This is a carefully crafted piece of filmmaking that relies on artistry instead of special effects, aside from the double-exposures of Yakusho as the wimpy scientist and his evil doppelganger, and that odd invention that the scientist is working on, a wheelchair with arms that is supposed to be an artificial body for quadriplegics.
The DVD release of this formidably erudite but thoroughly entertaining film brings us not only the film, but also goes behind the scenes with a fairly generic ?making of? featurette that is nonetheless worthing checking out to see what went into bringing that wheelchair to artificial life and the specifics of having Yakusho interact with himself on screen. More entertaining is an interview with DOPPELGANGER?s puckish concoctor who compares creating horror with creating comedy. The film alone is enough to make his other films worth finding, but what he says, and that cute little smile he wears while saying it, seals the deal.
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