Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy meditates above a peculiar narrative
Jake Gyllenhaal re-teamed with his Prisoners director, Denis Villeneuve, in this alluring and entrancing but strange intellectual thriller.
Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) rents a movie on the recommendation of a colleague. Adam sees an actor in a bit part role who looks exactly like him. After doing some research, Adam identifies the actor as Daniel St. Claire, the stage name for one Anthony Claire. Adam rents the other two films in which Anthony has appeared and develops an obsession with the man, who is his physical doppelganger.
Adam and Anthony eventually meet in a hotel room and discover they are perfectly identical copies of each other, including a scar each man has on his chest and stomach. Adam is reserved and bookish while Anthony is hot-headed and sexual. After following Mary (Adam’s girlfriend) to work, Anthony confronts Adam and demands his clothes and the keys to his car in order to stage a sexual liaison with her. Adam complies, and Anthony takes Mary to the hotel where the two men met.
At the hotel, Mary panics when she sees the mark where Anthony's wedding ring usually sits and demands to know who he is, as her boyfriend doesn't wear a ring. She forces Anthony to drive her home, but the two get into a fight, leading to a car crash which violently kills them both.
A diagnostic DOPPELGANGER NARRATIVE
A lot has been made about the exact meaning behind the spider we see at the very end of the movie. It certainly is a head scratcher and has been called “one of the scariest endings of any film ever made.” I wouldn’t quite go to those lengths in describing this movies finale, but it does possess shocking and mysterious qualities that leave us guessing.
Enemy begins with the epigraph “Chaos is order yet undeciphered” (a line from José Saramago’s The Double, the novel on which the movie is based). Although this movie may appear incomprehensible at first, that epigraph advocates we can make sense and order of it if we know how to get to the bottom of it. Villeneuve and screenwriter Gullon leave many questions unanswered, which only heigtens the impact of this narrative upon the viewer.
A RAW CURIOSITY
Jake Gyllenhaal is again on fine form, continuing his current streak of strong lead performances (End of Watch, Prisoners). He installs a raw curiosity in both the characters he portrays— although leaving us perplexed at the time— we are immensely engrossed.
Enemy is a challenging watch that meditates above a fascinating yet peculiar doppelganger narrative. The astuteness Enemy possess is allowing the audience to gather the information and come to their own conclusions. Villeneuve drops us in the middle of a perplexed mind, but his elegant prowess as a storyteller, we forget we’re in that discombobulated mindset. Set against a plain, bleak and exquisitely shot landscape, Enemy is one of this years unsung gems.