Unique and aesthetically interesting. A mechanical future-present a la Terry Gilliam’s Brazil meets the dystopic shadows of German expressionism; an image which at once speaks to Kafka, Orwell, and other literary narcissists. At times, the overtly stylistic maneuvers becomes obnoxious, even pretentious, rather than sincere. Clever themes from Dostoyevsky’s novel are conveyed; well adapted in Ayoade’s dialogue, and particularly well delivered by Jesse Eisenberg in his two-part role.
To much dismay, however, the film doesn’t quite realize the existential angst or ennui it so strongly delivers; perhaps this is due to a lack of subtlety. Though emotionally resonant, in much part due to the soundtrack, the film lacks a sense of necessity: the desperation appears contrived rather than inescapable. Ayoade’s many art-film references, from Kieslowski (telescope and blue chandelier) to Godard (alienation effects) to Lynch (score), index the many episodic themes of the film, but his scattered execution diminishes the film’s poignancy.
79/100 – Very Good