In The Double, we see snippets of the production process of a life-sized silicon sculpture. Gradually, the viewer learns more and more details about the man depicted by the sculpture from a voiceover. We learn that the subject is a social worker named Vince. The images – which capture everything from the preparation of casts of body parts in their raw form to the meticulously detailed outfitting of the man with a beer glass and a green t-shirt – are accompanied by further a series of anecdotes about Vince, so that a vivid portrait gradually arises before the viewer’s eyes. The viewer begins to feel that they know Vince. Yet this feeling is undermined when it becomes clear that the narrator doesn’t know Vince personally.
We are presented with a double construction of an individual. On the one hand, we witness the physical construction of a sculpture which outwardly resembles the man, though we remain aware that the sculpture is not identical with the individual himself. On the other hand, we hear an account of his personality which is also gradually revealed to be a fabrication. Over the course of the film, a creeping doubt sets in concerning whether it is ever possible to capture the essence of a person through images and third party narration alone. The initial apparent authenticity of the descriptions turns out to be a fabrication, demonstrating how readily we are misled to trust films and other media.
This raises the question as to when and why we believe that we have really come to know a person, and what role film and documentary media can play in this process. Instead of pretending to have answers, Jan Dietvorst and Roy Villevoye pose questions, leaving it to the viewers to find their own answers. (Theresa Heußen)