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First I must confess that I'm not a big fan of gialli. I've seen enough of them to know that they almost invariably play gleefully on the audience's prurient and senselessly violent impulses, and, to boot, a good percentage of them are inept in the filmmaking department. There usually isn't much of interest for someone looking for quality cinema. THE DOUBLE is one of the exceptions.
The film shares its flashback structure with Claude Sautet's poignant French drama LE CHOSES DE LA VIE. In addition, "The Double" would be a very fitting companion piece to Aldo Lado's MALASTRANA, a giallo which it closely resembles, and which also stars Jean Sorel.
Frank (Sorel) is an indolent playboy living off proceeds from his father's business. As the film begins, Frank drives his Citroen into a Rome parking garage and is shot by a mysterious bearded man. The remainder of the story is a series of flashbacks, as the dying Frank recollects how he arrived at his present circumstance: Frank was married to the lovely but dimwitted Lucia(Ewa Aulin), but secretly pined after her mirror-image, more sophisticated mother Nora(Lucia Bose). When Nora became involved with an American drifter, Eddie(Sergio Doria), Frank was green with envy. Things spiral out of control....but not as one would expect. By the climax, the moral comes into focus: Keeping one's passions unchecked can lead to ruin. Not exactly a new notion, but it's intriguingly explored here.
"The Double" is not without its flaws. The (customarily, for an Italian film) incongruous folk music and the anything-goes attitude towards sex and lounging about are badly dated; early sections of the film are languorous and convoluted; the final scene is not quite clear, at least in the version I saw. I would love to see a subtitled incarnation of the film, as dubbing is oft disconcerting and poorly recorded.
Director Romolo Guerrieri is the real star of the proceedings. His commanding style and aplomb with the intercutting is impressive. There are countless striking visual flourishes throughout.
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