Movie Review: Enemy
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Javier Gullón (screenplay), José Saramago (novel)
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon
Synopsis: A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.
A Man walks down a long, dark corridor. The man is one of many, gazing wide-eyed as women dance naked for their pleasure. One women masturbates onstage as the men watch impassively. The dance ends and two more women make an appearance, one carrying a silver tray, placing it on the floor and lifting the lid. A brown tarantula is revealed and it slowly crawls off the tray as one of the women moves to squash the arachnid under her heel. One of the two Gyllenhaal characters is there. Enemy begins.
Right from the start Enemy is clearly a different web from the one Gyllenhaal and Villeneueve shot at almost the same time, Prisoners. Enemy is a film that will stick with you well beyond the credits and for that, I admire this movie. The imagery and tone of this film is remarkable and from the opening scene we see just how great the imagery is. Enemy is a film that you will not be able to figure out right away, in fact it took me a couple weeks to even be able to write this review. If you enjoy films that are very cut and dry with no arguing on what this or that meant, Enemy will not be something you enjoy. I challenged everyone to watch the film anyways because it is a visual masterpiece. Villeneueve chooses a unique way to shoot the film to get us to feel uncomfortable and comfortable at the same time through medium and close up shots. Being uncomfortable in this film puts your mind right in the psyche of the film. Villeneueve hopes that the imagery, eerie score, yellow palette of the film entrances us and enables us to piece together the web.
We are first introduced on screen to Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal), a university professor who pretty much does the same thing every day. Adam lectures of dictators, then goes home to his beautiful girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent). They have sex. He sleeps. He wakes. She’s gone. The web spins the same way until a co-worker randomly suggest a film. Adam watches the film one night and he is awakened by a recurring scene from the film, where a bell hop seems look just like him. Adam views the credits and lists all the bell hops. One by one he researches all the names and he is dumbfounded when he searches for Anthony Claire (Gyllenhaal). He eventually contacts Anthony’s also beautiful and pregnant wife Helen. (Sarah Gadon). Other than Adam/Anthony, Helen is the only person whose viewpoint we get to see. Helen’s scene either adds to the current web or spins its own web. Through Helen we are able to see the two shades of Jake. Bell is logical, and calm while Anthony is animalistic, and impulsive. How can she see both Jakes? Are you sure they are not lookalikes? The beauty of Enemy.
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Jake Gyllenhaal delivers the performance of a lifetime playing both Adam Bell and Anthony St. Claire. Both men are identical down to a scar on their body, confirming that they are not doppelgängers, but rather the same person. The movie will give you no direct answer to who is real and who is the figment of the other man’s psyche. Gyllenhaal is able to keep “Adam” and “Anthony” separate through body language and facial cues. Even when the men take over each other’s identities, you can always tell them apart. Sarah only has a small amount of screen time but she is a standout in her role as well as Melanie Laurent.
Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans create a vital score for this film which help elevates it’s dark undertones and ambiguous, thrilling narrative. Big, pulsating organ tones, as well as creepy strings help give it the creepy-crawler vibe we feel throughout the film. Great work here.
Enemy is probably one of the best films I’ve seen in the last few years, as it is a total mind teaser and the acting by Gyllenhaal brings this movie to a level not even Goku could reach. The acting is equally matched by the fantastic script by Javier Gullón. Enemy will probably be my best film of 2014, as what this movie did for my mind I’m sure no other movie can challenge me like this one did. I cannot say this enough but please check out Enemy either on demand are in theaters.