Written by Filipa Henriques.
Human behaviour is weird. Haven’t you ever been in a social event - a party, meeting your dearest one's friends, a job interview - feeling like the people around you will only ask you about stuff you don’t know much about? This is a first vehicle of anxiety nowadays, but it’s also what still makes life and real social interaction challenging. I came across these thoughts a few weeks ago, watching As Duas Irenes (Two Irenes), directed by Fabio Meira, premiered at Berlinale in 2017.
The film tells us a story of two teenage girls named Irene. The first Irene discovers that there’s another Irene in town and that they are sisters from the same father. If at first Irene is scared, she rapidly becomes curious about the other Irene. The film plot is complex, but in the end it made me think: why do we push ourselves and our flaws so hard?
I’ve always found the idea of the double very odd: the act of looking in the mirror and seeing all your flaws and then discovering someone else just like you - but perfect. This idea of the perfect self is something that, in the end, just exists in our own minds. Dostoievsky explored this idea in the acclaimed novel The Double in a much more philosophical way then Two Irenes. If the film is also very naive and coming-of-age, in the book the characters are not only psychological and individual dimensions, but also a social critique. In Dostoievsky's story, the main character Golyadkin tries to question the social order and create a social place for himself; in Meira’s film it’s the insecurities of the first Irene that get her so curious about her confident half-sister.
2013's adaptation of The Double, directed by Richard Ayoade shows the same theme in a much more darker point of view. Simon, the main character, lets life pass by him out of inertia, until someone starts taking over his life. From this perspective, it’s like the double is our inner self, and it appearing is the way our brain as to let us know we are blocking it.
The question remains: is the double the only way out of our own inertia in life? The different strategies we have to deal with our own self, in the times we are living, sometimes leave space for this kind of double to appear; the double, or the doppelgänger, can be interpreted like a view of oneself as something that we can touch and change, leading us to change ourselves and our own life.
Filipa Henriques works at Portugal Film - Portuguese Film Agency, an institution for the advancement and widespread reach of Portuguese independent cinema. Her studies started in the North of Portugal at Universidade do Minho and continued onto a semester in France's Paris Descartes and a masters' degree in Lisbon's Nova FCSH. After interning at the world renowned film festival IndieLisboa and the documentary film oriented Apordoc - Associação pelo Documentário, she started work at Portugal Film three years ago. She is now completing her studies with a second masters' degree at ISCTE on the Arts' Markets and recently started to collaborate with the IndieMusic selection committee at IndieLisboa.