Richard Ayoade ♥, filmmaker, is a little more reserved than the characters in the arsenal of Richard Ayoade, comedic actor. He’s reserved like the The IT Crowd’s Maurice Moss, but without any of the eccentricities. He’s not as commanding as The Mighty Boosh’s Saboo, nor as assertive as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’s Dean Learner, but as a director fluent in film history, Ayoade brings deep technical knowledge and references to nearly everything. He finds the relationship between cinema vérité and The Hills. He relies on classic romantic comedies when watching movies with his wife. And he knows perfectly well which of his own movies isn’t exactly Citizen Kane.
"Spencer from The Hills Is One of the Best Characters of the Last 10 Years"
Catherine Bray: One of the things I liked a lot about The Double is the way it interrogates the world of work, which is something I feel like a lot of filmmakers have difficulty with.
Richard Ayoade: This is something that happened in cinema maybe after The Apartment, which is that no one can take work seriously in a film because you know that within a film anyone who's involved with work is going to break free of it, or else they're an idiot for finding that thing important. So we had to create a world where people were still worried about being fired, or where they could still respect their bosses and it wasn't expected that they would one day break free of their shackles. Because the idea of anyone taking their job seriously now seems so absurd in dramatic terms. And the idea of a protestant work ethic, work having value in and of itself, doesn't seem to really exist anymore, as far as I can tell. It's only seen as valuable in so far as it serves a greater ideal, or serves yourself essentially.
In conversation with Richard Ayoade (three parts!)
Whatever you do, don’t ask Richard Ayoade whether his new film, The Double, was inspired by Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. He’s heard it before. In fact, the comparison has proven so reflexive that, by the close of the festival where the film premièred, the soft-spoken but exceedingly eloquent British TV star turned indie director was already a bit too familiar with the question. In a Film.com interview from TIFF, Ayoade graciously explained that the reference “just feels inaccurate in some respect, and more to do with production design ultimately, and even then I don’t think it’s particularly analogous.” Ayoade’s response wasn’t petulant, and he was quick to acknowledge that it’s something of an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as Brazil. But he’s right to observe that his film is its own beast.
Perhaps The Double—which Ayoade co-wrote with Avi Korine and directed as a follow-up to his well-liked Submarine—has been inviting incessant comparisons to Gilliam’s classic because Ayoade’s film about a young man forced to confront his shadow-self feels like the dark shade of a softer story from another time. Adapted from the Dostoyevsky novella of the same name, the film is more of a Kafka-esque spin on Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. (Comparisons may be futile, but they’re irresistible.)
Richard Ayoade on The Double and daring to be dark
Wow, we made it to our tenth post! Unfortunately, this also means that the AAA is once again adjourned until further notice. We want to thank all our members for their support, especially la_petite_singe. Couldn't've done it without ya.