Directed by: Richard Ayoade
Released date: May 9th, 2014 [LIMITED]
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther
Poor, somewhat perverted, Simon (Jessie Eisenberg). His mother is dying at a disreputable rest home. People harass him on the train to work. The waitress (Cathy Moriarty) at his favorite restaurant gives him sass. His co-workers at a cold data processing center only recognize him when he makes mistakes. And his love life consists of watching, sometimes spying, on his coworker, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska). Simon, however, is not all bad; he makes a collection out of Hannah's scraps, and he has some good ideas for increasing efficiency at work.
What Simon really needs, or thinks he needs, is to speak to the Colonel (James Fox) via Mr. Papadopoulos (Wallace Shawn).
Imprisoned by his own inertia, Simon's world becomes more complicated with the arrival of James Simon (Eisenberg). A confident, charming young man, James and Simon begin a partnership where James fights for Simon while Simon does James' work, even taking tests for James at work.
The partnership, however, is short as James soon works himself into the good graces of Mr. Papadopoulos and into the pants of Hannah. Simon is not so lucky: James' accomplishments are in direct connection to Simon's downfall.
A Spotlight selection at this year's Sundance Film Festival (Spotlight indicates the film previously played somewhere else), director Richard Ayoade (Submarine), screenwriter Avi Korine and production designer David Crank's updated adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella of the same name adds quirky, often very dry humor to Dostoyevsky's miserable, quasi-existential dread. Alienation does not have to be all nausea; sometimes it deserves a guffaw or two.