Known as a J-horror elder but more sensibly viewed as a mad-doctor surrealist, Kiyoshi Kurosawa is scantly released here (out of 23 features, only Cure and Bright Future were nominally distributed), but this nervous 2003 metaphysical comedy might be his most accessible film. Shades of Michel Blanc’s Grosse Fatigue, the story revolves around robotics engineer Koji Yakusho as his career project—a fully automated wheelchair—stalls in the design phase, just in time for his evil double to inexplicably show up demanding equal time and destroying the inventor’s fragile existence. Beginning as a straight-faced spook-out, and then ricocheting from one uncomfortable idea to another in the classic Hitchcock-Buñuel tradition, Kurosawa’s film deftly toys with the very idea of interpretable metaphor. Still, the notion of divergent consciousness manifests in the head-smackingly inventive use of split-screen juxtaposition, cross-cutting, and multiple perspectives—Doppelgänger constructs its own Hyde-like schizo persona. Fittingly, the movie jumps rails in the third act like an id cut loose from its superego, but never loses its joie du cinéma.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2005