Enemy (2013)

Enemy (2013)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Jose Saramago (novel); Javier Gullon

Full Cast and Crew

I haven’t posted about a specific film for a while, but felt I had to make the effort after watching Enemy two nights ago. It was a film I stumbled upon a while ago and wanted to see, but missed in the cinemas (although I doubt it ever made it to any screens around here) and found on streaming for 99p – which is a bargain in anyone’s money!

Released in the same year as The Double which explores similar themes of fractured reality and identity, Jake Gyllenhaal plays dual roles as Adam, a history professor and Anthony, a small time actor who Adam spots while watching a DVD recommended by a work colleague. Confused by the appearance of his exact double in the film, Adam tracks Anthony down and what follows is a mind-blowing psychological mystery as we try to unravel what the hell is going on along with Adam and Anthony.

Repeating motifs related to spiders and webs permeate the film, drawing parallels with Adam’s lectures concerning dictatorships and the controlling nature of rulers and the mystery that traps both Adam, Anthony and their respective partners.

What stood out for me, as well as the acting, direction and score, was the writing and editing. If you are interested in tightly plotted stories where every little nuance and detail is crucial, then this is a story for you. There is so much more I want to say about this film, but I don’t want to in case you want to see it.

If you have seen it, you’ll know what I mean and you can read on… if not, please watch it if the trailer intrigues you and then come back.

******************************SPOILERS************************************

*****************************NO REALLY************************************

****************************LAST WARNING**********************************

The writers skillfully weave two story lines into one to represent Adam/Anthony’s fractured psyche; the trick being, there is no double! The film reveals one story from two perspectives, but all mixed up in a non-linear narrative. The scenes are littered with little clues and hints as to what is going on and it is up to us to piece it all together.

While the occasional view of a giant spider looming large over the city and the disturbing final images will leave a lot of people (me included) scratching their heads, all those little clues start to add up. And that, to me, is a sign of good writing and story-telling. Lots of little set-ups and pay-offs, subtly delivered in “blink and you’ll miss them” ways that suddenly become clear as you rethink the scenes and examine the chronology. A simple reference to blueberries or an answerphone message from Adam’s mother seem almost inconsequential when they play out but take on larger significance as the story unravels. Nothing is “throwaway”.

***************************END OF SPOILERS**********************************

It is difficult to talk more specifically without giving away the plot completely and I don’t want to do that (I’ve said too much already). I want people to experience this film the same way I did, just knowing it is a film about a man and his doppelganger and discover it in the same way.

It is a film that is going to linger with me for days as I replay scenes in my head and try to work it all out. More than one viewing is likely to be needed to piece it all together but, if you like a challenge and fancy a story that doesn’t give up all its secrets easily, then give it a go… it’s only 90 minutes, so what have you go to lose!?

It’s a shame the female characters do not play a bigger part in the movie, but the parts are played very well and Anthony’s partner, in particular, reflects the audience in her confusion and bewilderment.

Highly recommended!

If you have seen the film, I would love to hear what you thought of it…

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Posted on July 7, 2015, in Films, Structure, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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