Dr. Donna Copeland’s
JAKE GYLLENHAAL MELANIE LAURENT SARAH GORDON
Now this is an interesting follow up for director Denis Villenuve, whose film Prisoners with Gyllenhaal last year was hailed as one of 2013’s best. Enemy is a different beast all together. The poster hints at the classic thriller template, but the opening scenes reinforce a Hitchcockian look and feel. While the ending might feel more like a David Lynch film (no spoilers here), Enemy is certainly a head scratcher that will divide audiences. There are similarities with Prisoners, like the entire mood of both films giving a feeling of impending doom. The musical score here really picks the film up and keeps the suspense going when there is little or no dialogue.
(Gyllenhaal) lives a repetitive, mundane life as an associate history professor at the local college. When a faculty member recommends he watch a locally made film, he discovers that he looks identical to one of the actors in the film. He becomes obsessed with meeting and talking to Anthony (Gyllenhaal). Even down to a scar on their abdomen, the two men who have wildly different personalities begin to have devastating effects on each other's life, career and especially their significant other.
In the beginning the style and mood of the film really had me interested. The score did as much plot driving as Adam did; in one scene in particular, where Adam drives up to Anthony's acting agency, the score is overwhelming, as if to say something very bad is about to happen. Alfred Hitchcock and other successful suspense directors created this technique and Villenuve recreates that or puts his own thrilling spin to it. “What’s happening?” Anthony’s wife says with the most terrified looking expression on her face. You might even laugh at this scene because, in the beginning, the characters seem to be making a bigger situation out of two men looking identical.
The situation gets confusing and more unsettling as we depart from what began as something in the way of Hitchcock and enter into something Lynch-like and beyond. In the end you will have to decide for yourself what it all means. Everything is open for interpretation, but the screenplay, based on the novel, does seem to offer clues to the varying bigger picture here. Gyllenhaal really delivers a terrific performance in the two roles, which oppose each other in more ways than one.
Final Thought – Clever, disturbing and somewhat unforgettable.
By: Dustin Chase
Enemy is a rather surreal movie directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) and based on a Nobel Prize winning novel by Jose Saramago called The Double. And it has a doppelganger plot, with the talented Jake Gyllenhaal playing both characters. As Adam, he is a depressed history professor; as Anthony, he is a brash, self-absorbed actor. Both are with attractive blonde women, but neither is very attuned to them, especially Adam.
The two meet when Adam checks out a movie recommended to him by a colleague and is struck by the similarity between the actor’s physical appearance and his own. He looks up the actor online and begins to stalk him out of curiosity. Then he calls Anthony on the phone, but Anthony’s wife answers, mistakes him for Anthony and thinks Anthony is playing a joke on her. Adam calls again and this time gets Anthony, explaining their similarities, but Anthony is creeped out and hangs up on him. Then his curiosity gets the better of him and he calls Adam back and suggests they meet.
There are a number of “aw, c’mon moments” in this film, and one is that Anthony tells Adam to meet him in a hotel room, and Adam complies without question. A hotel room??? Another odd thing is that both are very curious about the other, but when they meet in person, they act like junior high school boys at a dance. After a brief exchange in the hotel room, Adam bolts, saying he had made a mistake in contacting Anthony. Consequently, it’s a shocker when Anthony, after stalking Adam’s girlfriend (Laurent) appears at Adam’s apartment and accuses him of sleeping with his pregnant wife Helen (Gadon). Helen also stalks Adam by going to the university and purposefully bumping into him so she can see for herself how much he resembles her husband.
Anthony’s solution to all this is that Adam lend him his clothes and car, and he will take Mary on a special weekend together, which he does. When Adam feels at a loss, he manages to get into Anthony’s apartment and spends the weekend with Helen.
There is more to come, but I won’t spoil it. You can probably see that this is a rather unbelievable tale, and it has been suggested that perhaps Adam and Anthony are the same person having trouble integrating the different facets of experience. But it’s hard to see how this interpretation would mesh with the many differences seen between the two characters and their lives; for instance one with a white circle under his wedding ring and the other, none. A more sensible interpretation is that both men are unhappy, meet rather coincidentally, and have hopes that the other will supply what’s missing in their lives. The concept of the double is a popular theme in literature, even found in ancient texts, and is often seen in psychological studies as a response to narcissistic injuries.