Double Take


Ha. Gotta love this postmodern take on Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Nixon, human doubles, coffee, the Cuban Missile Crisis and everything in between.

Double Take is a truly original filmic collage. Well, original concept anyway. Its primary source material comprises the many TV spots and commercials Hitchcock did for his films and the television series ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’. Anyone who owns a few of his movies on DVD will recognise some of the footage – for example there’s the tongue in cheek tour of the Bates Motel he did for Psycho and the publicity shoots he did for The Birds, complete with the trained crow.Double Take It’s all cut up and mixed with newsreel footage of the era – from Richard Nixon’s televised meeting with Nikita Krushev up until the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Throughout all of this we keep hearing a rather famous sound bite of Hitchcock referencing the theory that everyone on Earth has an exact double, and that if you should happen to meet your double, you should kill them.

To add further creamy layers to this outstanding fictional reality cake, we have a voiceover provided by Mark Perry, who does an admirable impersonation of the great director’s laidback drawl. And then we have interviews with Ron Burrage, a man who’s had somewhat of a part time career as a Hitchcock lookalike. It’s all a little bit insane and somewhat mystifying, but it works.

Johan Grimonprez and Tom McCarthy have managed to create a Cold War thriller that has Hitchcock at the very centre. More impressive is the fact that they manage to link JFK and the master of suspense rather successfully. There’s some fantastic footage from many disparate sources, including a newsreel of the 1945 plane crash into the Empire State Building and – of all things – a series of atrociously offensive advertisements for Folger’s Coffee.

If it sounds a little too wacky and off-the-wall to be enjoyable then I’m not explaining it effectively. Whilst I can’t imagine a quasi-documentary/fiction film like this has much to offer in a second viewing, it’s a unique experience – a must for Hitchcock fans and anyone interested in the blurring of fact and fiction. At 80 minutes it’s just about the right length (any more would have become tedious) and it’s likely to provoke laughs, outrage and head scratching in equal doses.

Rating: 4.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 10th August 2009
Hoopla Factor: 3.5 stars

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