Enemy Review

Enemy (2013) directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon. This is loosely based on the José Saramago novel The Double.

Synopsis: After Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal) spots his doppelganger in a film, he seeks him out with some interesting circumstances.

The story begins with college History teacher Adam, and his routine filled life. We are shown that he does the same thing over and over through the iteration of the same lesson in class. We are also shown this through his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent) and their routine love making.

After renting a film one night, Adam notices his exact double playing a small role in the background. Panicked, Adam digs deeper and sees every film his double is in. He finds out the actor’s name is Anthony St. Claire (also played by Gyllenhaal) and after much deliberation, they both meet up. Anthony’s pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon) also sees Adam (without his knowledge) and the resemblance is uncanny. Here, things take an interesting turn.

My initial thoughts are of bafflement. This film really does leave some unanswered questions.

From the outset, this film is very dark. This is established by the harsh lighting, as well as the nervy soundtrack that plays all the way through. This adds a rising sense of unease, and is reminiscent of the film The Machinist (2004). By doing this, although nothing in particular is happening, the viewer still gets a bad feeling that something is about to. This really does illustrate the sheer power of music within film.

Gyllenhaal is impressive as Adam/Anthony. I have been a fan of him ever since Donnie Darko (2001), and he has gone from strength to strength over the past decade. He illustrates the likeability in Adam, but the devilish side of Anthony.

This is an enjoyable film, but there are some obvious motifs within the narrative. One such example is the presence of spiders. These seem to play a big part in the plot of the story, but their meaning is never explained. When doing some background reading about this film, I noticed director Villeneuve got the cast to sign a confidentiality agreement to keep the meaning hidden. This clearly shows that we aren’t supposed to know the true meaning behind Enemy.

Although this film is very enigmatic, I would still recommend this in order to draw your own conclusions. I have reached a number of conclusion about the ending, and I am sure there are many more.

One useful resource I found which tries to explain the film is:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/03/14/enemy_movie_ending_explained_the_meaning_of_the_jake_gyllenhaal_and_denis.html

 

By Robert Spence

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