Please Note – This film has known in some states as “Jonathan” or “Duplicate”.
Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) is a young man whose daily job is a draftsman. He lives in an apartment with his brother, John (also played by Ansel Elgort). But here’s the thing, the two brothers share the same body.
You see, from 7 am to 7 pm, Jonathan is in control. From 7 pm to 7 am, John is in control. The two communicate by using a handheld video camera, each sharing what they did while awake. This gives the other brother an understanding of tasks that are required or people they’ve met. They also get through life by using strict rules and with the support of their doctor who discovered the two when they were at a young age. But things between Jonathan and John become rather tense when one of them breaks the rules by dating a woman and falling in love.
The film is heavily focused on Jonathan’s character. All of the interactions Jonathan has with his brother is through watching John’s video recordings on their TV. As a main character Jonathan is stiff and rather strict in all areas. He also likes to keep a straight face and seems to complain a lot. For a leading character, this was a little unexpected and not always ideal. The performance by our leading actor is positive, but I found the characters in this film bland and dull.
The film’s marketing (particularly the poster) would make you think this movie is a sci-fi. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Jonathan would best be classed as a drama with a touch of mystery. Thankfully there are some excellent mysteries to be had here which kept me going. The interactions between the two brothers is generally acceptable to see too. The love interest in the film; however, is forgettable.
The filming style attempts to be creative, but it also left me dissatisfied. Shaky camera shots, a cool soundtrack and the odd effect of a blank, black screen for transitions to a new scene only slows the film down.
Overall, Duplicate (aka “Jonathan”) brings a creative and welcome concept to the screen with a thumbs up performance by actor Ansel Elgort. But the film has bland characters and an editing style which disappointed me. The film’s ending also felt weak compared to the film’s build-up. Also, this isn’t a sci-fi film despite what the film’s poster would lead you to believe.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden