Short Reviews: Enemy (2013)


If anyone tries to spoil Enemy for you, punch them in the throat and walk away. This is a movie to go into not knowing too much, and as such, I’ll be keeping details of the plot light.

Enemy is the story of two Jake Gyllenhaals. One of them is Adam, our protagonist, a bookish professor who keeps things in his life relatively simple. He teaches a course on dictatorships as a model of governance, he spends time with his girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent) and lives in a relatively Spartan apartment.

A colleague asks if he watches movies. He doesn’t. The colleague seems pretty eager to insist he should check out one movie in particular. He does. He watches it, goes to bed and that’s about it. Until he wakes in the night realising something, and goes back to watch it again. He finds an extra in the movie played by his exact double, Anthony.

Adam becomes obsessed with Anthony, and wants to track him down. Anthony is hot-headed and impulsive, where Adam is bookish and reserved. Anthony’s wife Helen (Sarah Gadon) tracks Adam down at the university and can’t believe her eyes.

The two men eventually meet. Then things change. And that’s where I’m leaving the plot.

Enemy is a captivating movie. It’s an intriguing, gradual build of a movie that works in an incredible amount of tension and mystery. I was blown away by it. There are several dozens of interpretations on the movie out there, some more convincing than others. Don’t read them until you’ve seen the movie. Punch in the throat, and walk away.

It’s a masterfully controlled movie. Director Denis Villeneuve (who would go on to direct Gyllenhaal again in Prisoners, which I’ve not seen yet, though it was released before Enemy) keeps things moving steadily and carefully. It’s a beautifully thought out movie. Nicolas Bolduc’s cinematography renders the world of the film in a slightly off-kilter way, and the score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is fantastic – every bit as complimentary to the action on screen while haunting and mystifying in its own right.

Performances are excellent, although Melanie Laurent is underused. Sarah Gadon impresses with a warmth and intrigue of her own that offsets the mystery behind Adam and Anthony perfectly. And as Adam and Anthony, Jake Gyllenhaal is fantastic; the “person-meets-their-doppelganger-and-things-go-unexpectedly” plot has been done before, but rarely with this much nuance and attention to delineating the characters subtly, but so you can clearly tell the difference between them. His performances are amazing, and another perfect compliment to a movie that’s been put together so precisely.

Enemy is incredible, a film that demands discussion and attention. But only after you’ve seen it. If someone tries to spoil it for you, punch them in the throat and walk away.*

*in the event you’re brought up on assault charges based on this review, we don’t know each other and I was never here.


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