Digital disruption is all around us these days, and Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria, Summer Hours), who structured much of his recent film Personal Shopper around cellphones and texting, returns to this theme in his highly intelligent new examination of what this technology means to our lives. Doubles vies is both a delicious comedy of manners and an enquiry focused on a group of middle-aged, middle-class French men and women, and how they are affected by the hyper-connectivity of today.
Alain (Guillaume Canet) is a self-assured and successful book publisher struggling with the ins and outs of both his professional and private life. His relationship with his wife, Serena (Juliette Binoche, Clouds of Sils Maria; Summer Hours), has gone slightly stale, and he has to deal delicately with one of his long-time authors (Vincent Macaigne), who has written a new manuscript and is pushing for its publication. Complicating this is Alain’s enthusiastic embrace of digital and social media, which has led him to hire an impressively ambitious young woman as the “head of digital transition” in his company. As Alain pushes his new-media agenda forward, he encounters, variously, support and resistance from friends and colleagues.
Assayas’s often-hilarious social critique is powered by a series of conversations about what this technological transition has meant for all of us—what is gained and what is lost. Doubles vies offers a subtle probing of what lies behind those conversations themselves, as well as behind the actions and behaviour of its ensemble of characters, all of whom are undergoing crises of values and beliefs.
“Assayas has often shown great wit in his screenplays (most recently in Clouds of Sils Maria), but there is a rhythm to his writing here that is surprisingly good.” (Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist)
“There are chuckles and even guffaws throughout, though the comedy is streaked with despair, and also great tenderness. It’s the latest evidence of the director’s gift for tackling grave subjects with the lightest of touches; the film flows airily along, then knocks you off-balance with the weight of its insights and implications.” (Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter)
“This story of two couples dealing with change in their personal and professional lives, so packed with intellectual sparring, gets progressively lighter as it moves along, acknowledging the primacy of human interaction (foibles and all) over doctrine.” (Jay Weissberg, Variety)