When I first saw details surrounding this film; I had the belief that it may become one of my favorite films of the year. Two Jake Gyllenhaals and Mélanie Laurent, both within one stylistic low budget film directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners). That’s the ingredients for something memorable to follow, and the film does that but not in the way I had anticipated.
“Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a glum, disheveled history professor, who seems disinterested even in his beautiful girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent). Watching a movie on the recommendation of a colleague, Adam spots his double, a bit-part actor named Anthony Clair (Jake Gyllenhaal), and decides to track him down. The identical men meet and their lives become bizarrely and irrevocably intertwined. Gyllenhaal is transfixing as both Adam and Anthony, provoking empathy as well as disapproval while embodying two distinct personas.” – IMDb
I would want to believe that it must be tricky playing two different people who strikingly have distinct qualities to their personalities that separate the two individuals. Jake Gyllenhaal is able to convince the audience that Adam and Anthony really are two different people and not just himself playing a double role. What makes this performance so special is that Gyllenhaal doesn’t resort to over-acting for either of the individuals. Gyllenhall keeps it smooth for Anthony, who comes off as a guy who thinks he’s all that despite only being a small time actor. In contrast, Adam is a rather morose individual, who upholds a usual routine of lecturing his students, returning home, and partaking in unfulfilling sexual intercourse with his girlfriend Mary.
Unfortunately that’s all the film has going for it. It was intriguing to ponder what Adam and Anthony’s first encounter would be like and where the story would go from their but if I remember correctly there was only thirty to forty minutes left when the story finally become interesting and increases it’s pace. It would have been great for Villeneuve to utilize this smart premise and thought provoking introduction of the film; where you witness one of Gyllenhaal’s characters walk through an underground building. Him and many other men become stone like as they watch a women pleasure herself and soon after a woman lets out a tarantula and proceeds to step on it. The film never lives up to this spellbinding grasp that captures you early on.
Enemy is comprised of shots that don’t really push the story forward enough and that can be easily recognizable when the story picks up around that hour mark. Yes, there were great moments before hand such as Adam first recognizing Anthony in the film he rented, and the dream that followed or when Adam pretends to be Anthony in order to locate his address but in-between those moments the story shockingly slows down even for a suspense like thriller. I want to say if Enemy was cut back from 90 minutes down to 60 minutes, it could have had an effective story that would puzzle the minds of the audience.
Despite the flaws, the film had great cinematography throughout. For a lower budget film in comparison to Prisoners. I enjoyed the yellow lighting that fills this Toronto based world and with the addition of the score involved. It creates a haunting world that these characters inhabit creating a feeling that evil is approaching, and can be right around the corner. Figuratively, that is similar to the ending of this film, however it’s so ambiguous; a person can draw conclusions from anywhere. Sadly, that is most the film for me. I was unable to become fully engaged in the story and couldn’t find the deeper meaning that Villeneuve was possibly trying to hide beneath.
Overall, Enemy is appeasing to the eye with a premise that will surely attract attention, but it doesn’t live up to what could have been a incredibly profound film. There are moments that require undivided attention, and a score that will haunt your imagination, but asides from those aspects. Enemy will only leave you confused, frustrated, equipped with a brief moment wondering why you even wanted to watch this film. Actually much like another A24 film released this year Under The Skin, both films had exceptional trailers but Enemy doesn’t live up to it.
My Rating: ★★ / ★★★★★
Dir. Denis Villeneuve
IMDb 7/10 – Rotten Tomatoes 75%
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