I can see how some people might think The Double, Richard Ayoade's sophomore film, was derivative. It is chock-a-block with visual echoes of David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, Terry Gilliam and Roman Polanski’s The Tenant while banging around themes - doppelgangers and distorted realities - drawn from Dostoevsky, Nabokov and Kafka. But while it is true that Ayoade fails to establish a strong authorial voice of his own in this film, it is still perfectly fine to stand on the shoulders of giants and I felt this movie added enough of its own touches to be evocative of greater works while staying on the acceptable side of homage.
The plot is rather unimportant - it's a bunch of surreal non-sense for the most part that is much more interested in establishing a particular sense of unease and even existential dread. Set in some kind of dystopian alternate dimension, the film is about a bureaucratic lackey who is doomed to eternal irrelevance in an irrelevant world, until one day his doppelganger shows up and begins terrorizing him. This is the stuff of classic Russian literature, playing around with the meaning of life and identity, all of it infused with a sharp-edged nihilism. And that is important because film, when done well, can utilize the visual language of cinema to establish that mood of nihilistic absurdity in a visceral way that literature simply cannot. The Double is a well done example of such.
It establishes this mood of uneasiness and cultivates it throughout by employing simple and subtle touches like the oversized wardrobe of Jesse Eisenberg (who himself has a certain innate, sociopathic creepiness that Zack Snyder would unsuccessfully try to mine a few years later) and the awesome production design mixing boxy and unspecified futurism with consciously retro elements, the disorienting lighting, the carefully surreal world-building. There are a number of gorgeously blocked and filmed scenes, using sharp and contrasting lighting schemes for maximum visual impact.
Film is usually evaluated based on the plot, the characters and the world-building it does. In this movie the plot, such as it is, exists only to be confusing and alienating as do the characters. So a film like this lives and dies by its world-building, if it can successfully cultivate the atmosphere that it wants. In that regard, as an exercise in absurd nihilistic world-building, The Double does just fine.