Enemy is a 2013 Canadian psychological thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve. If you need a refresher on some of his notable work, Denis Villeneuve is also responsible for directing Prisoners, a film released in the same year.
It is loosely adapted by Javier Gullon from Jose Saramago’s 2002 novel The Double, and was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as two characters, and co-stars Melanie Laurent, Isabella Rossellini, Sarah Gadon, Stephen R. Hart, and Jane Moffat.
This is one of the few films released in 2013 that I didn’t see in theaters, but I really wanted to see. After all, I thought Prisoners was a very well-done and underappreciated thriller film, and with this having the same director as well as Jake Gyllenhaal, a personal favorite of mine, it looked to be cut from a similar clothe.
The story focuses on two-sides of a double-sided coin. (Each having the same face)
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Anthony Claire, an actor that other-wise seems to neglect his wife and have this bizarre infatuation with spiders. He is sociable and vibrant with a wife that is six months pregnant. On the other-side of the spectrum, Jake Gyllenhaal also plays Adam Bell; a college professor usually keeps to himself except for his girlfriend. While Adam Bell is watching a film off the recommendation of a colleague, he discovers that one of the side-actors looks exactly like him.
Naturally, Adam decides that he’ll momentarily obsess about the situation in an attempt to try and figure out who Anthony Claire is.
The premise itself should be enough to turn some heads. While, for some reason I can’t explain, the idea of one-actor playing two-roles seems like a recipe for disaster, I believed Jake Gyllenhaal would be capable of tackling it. While he has some glimpses, his performance didn’t really wow me in the same way that some of his previous did. He didn’t phone in his performance; instead, it’s more to say that the script and the characters themselves haven’t been flushed out enough for him to have something to sink his teeth into.
Meanwhile, the supporting cast proves itself capable, but once more it is a case of not having enough to work with. I remember early on while I was watching with some of my friends, we kept asking why the characters acted the way they did. A character finds out that he evidently has a twin, and instead of handling it like a civilized person, he obsesses about it. Once Adam Bell spills the beans about it, Anthony Claire doesn’t exactly actually act like a normal person either. The film’s plot has this entire spectacle that feels like it could have easily been prevented in the first-place.
All of the characters are emotional about everything that is happening, meanwhile, I don’t even care. I can’t decide whether it’s because they didn’t make me care, or because I don’t think they should care either. There is a scene where Anthony’s wife catches a glimpse of Adam, and the very next second, she is in tears and crying about it. Why? Your husband has a twin brother. I don’t feel like this is something that would inspire such heavy emotions. Should we alert Zach Braff and tell him the sky is falling?
Before anyone says it, I know that they were hinting at more of a doppelganger sort-of idea, but as a viewer and as a person, that’s not what I would assume first. Enemy has been talked about as achieving surrealistic brilliance for the plot, but I don’t agree. Donnie Darko is another film starring Jake Gyllenhaal with a very driven plot with tons of small details. However, beyond all of that, it is also a very entertaining movie. I can’t say the same for this one.
I don’t even have it in me to praise the cinematography, which is either because I was so disappointed with the characters and story, or because it is more obtrusive than adding to the visual-effect. Everything is literally golden, but I can’t say that any of it actually inspired or implied a sense of style. I will say that the spider-head looked cool. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ll know what I mean when you do.
In conclusion, the film is weighed down by twists, turns, and spirals in such a way that the acting efforts aren’t able to keep it afloat. It seems to have a lot on its mind. There are little hints and small details that some might enjoy looking into. That’s all well and swell, but the film itself doesn’t have the means to carry the premise.
The film disappointed me on most accounts, and I can’t really think of much to say for redeeming qualities.
Thanks for reading…