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  Duplicate Share And Share Alike
Year: 2018
Director: Bill Oliver
Stars: Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse, Patricia Clarkson, Matt Bomer, Douglas Hodge, Souleymane Sy Savane, Shunori Shamathan, Joe Egender, Ian Unterman, Alok Tewari, Jeff Kim, Alaska L. McFadden, Ramses Torres
Genre: Drama, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) is a man who likes his routine. Get up in the morning, eat breakfast, tend to his ablutions, go to work as a draftsman in an office, then once his part-time job is over for the morning, have lunch and head back to bed at three in the afternoon. He does other things as well, such as watch himself on his wall-mounted television, and leave messages for himself on the camera he has installed in the lounge. Oddly, the clips of himself he watches seem to show him as somebody completely different, someone less buttoned down and more outgoing, and what does he do for the rest of the day? He does not sleep from 3pm to 7am, so what do he get up to? Why does he not know himself?

There was a science fictional reason for this, and from the opening you will probably have deduced it, especially when you see Patricia Clarkson as a scientist helping Jonathan through some therapy involving the small socket behind his ear that she plugs a machine into, all the better for him to manage those two personalities we have seen him exhibit, one in life, the other, gregarious version on video. It was far from an original concept, the notion of two separate people in the same body, but they had often been utilised for horror, whereas Duplicate (originally known as Jonathan) was a more reserved, cerebral experience that refused to go for the easy thrills of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing.

However, there is a reason this premise is implemented for thrills and spills, because it taps into identity troubles in a manner that exploits our unease with our choices and demeanours and shows how it would be if we had the potential to be someone else - usually with detrimental effect. This film was more interested in the intellectual elements, and honestly did not find it to be too bad a situation to be, to use crude parlance, a split personality, exploring how everyone has a side to them, call it a public or a private side, or the introvert versus extrovert, or even an aspect we are reluctant to admit to, never mind embrace. This was all very well, but the trouble with the way it was presented here was that Elgort portrayed the introvert as a space alien who happened to be inhabiting an Earthling's body.

One could speculate he was attempting a state of mental idiosyncrasy, such as autism, but Jonathan did not quite fit that bill as there was more a piece missing from his makeup that rendered him hard to warm to. His alter ego, named John, who was intended to be a whole other person, was not much more likeable, considering he spent the night-time hours doing more or less as he pleased, getting a girlfriend (Suki Waterhouse) who works in a bar, and not having to worry about the job Jonathan's bosses want him to go full time on. The real problems begin when the barmaid meets Jonathan during the day and naturally thinks he is John, which could have spiralled off in all sorts of intriguing directions, yet in effect dwindle before your eyes as the drama descends into an anticlimax. There were decent ideas here, it was just that director Bill Oliver needed a few more goes round the script to make it more engaging as we never felt much investment either in the cold fish or his dudebro equivalent. Music by Brooke Blair and Will Blair.

[Signature Entertainment presents Dupicate on Amazon Prime Video 4th June 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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