Director: Denis Villeneuve
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 7.5/10
Imagine if you will that you are walking down the street and suddenly you notice someone on the other side who looks exactly like you. We’re not talking a passing resemblance but someone who could easily pass as your twin, a doppelganger. How would you react? What would you do? The nature of twins is a story that Hollywood has frequently explored through numerous genres. From the comedy of Twins to the horror of Basket Case. From the hard hitting action of Double Impact to the disturbing unease of Dead Ringers. This year’s The Pretty One explored the nature of duality as one twin inhabited the life of another and discovered herself in the process. Now director Denis Villeneuve reunites with his Prisoners star Jake Gyllenhaal as he brings Jose Saramago’s novel “The Double” to the silver screen.
History professor Adam Bell is living a rather mundane existence. His life is a fairly routine one. He gets up, goes to work, comes home, spends time with his girlfriend, they have sex and go to sleep. Wake up and for the most part repeat. Despite having a beautiful girlfriend he’s disinterested and their sexual relationship is depressingly perfunctory. One night he decides to watch a movie and something, more like someone, catches his eye. He notices that an actor in the film looks exactly like him. Unsure of how this is possible he begins to do some research on this actor named Anthony Clair. When he discovers he’s local he decides to find him. This is the set up for this well done psychological thriller that takes you down a twisted path as these two disparate lives collide.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as both Adam and Anthony. The visual effects are very good as scenes where they occupy the same space are seamless. However, regardless of the quality of the effects it’s Gyllenhaal’s performance that sells the characters. He does a fine job creating two very different characters but when he minds the depths of their psychology it is transfixing. Behind every great man stands an equally great woman and Adam and Anthony do have them. Melanie Laurent, of Inglorious Basterds, is Mary, Adam’s girlfriend and Sarah Gordon, of Antiviral, is Helen, Anthony’s pregnant wife. They are both very good in their roles as one woman is oblivious to the situation and another is trying to come to grips with it. Isabella Rossellini appears as Mother. Who’s mother? It’s not 100% clear nor does the film ever try to provide a concrete answer.
Enemy marks Villeneuve’s first English language feature film, this was completed prior to Prisoners. It almost does this film a disservice when comparing his film to other directors’ films such as David Lynch, David Cronenberg or even Alfred Hitchcock but it cannot be helped. This is by no means a negative comparison but that this is a film that any one of those directors would have felt at home making and Villeneuve deftly handles the many twists and turns that populates his film. There are many unsettling moments and unexpected psychological twists that most viewers may not see coming. Even the twists that the most discerning of viewers may have seen coming may not be prepared for how events actually unfold. This viewer frequently found himself amongst the latter and appreciated the film even more for it. Javier Gullon has written a solid adaptation of the novel and Villeneuve does a great job of putting the mystery, psychology and symbolism on screen. Throughout the film you are left to wonder just where this is heading, how much of this is real and what is the meaning behind some imagery.
Enemy is a well made psychological thriller that will engage you and may leave you scratching your head as you try to piece it all together. It features solid performances by the three leads and in particular a fine, nuanced turn by its lead Jake Gyllenhaal. In the end you may find yourself wanting to watch it again with a new perspective which is a good sign for a thriller such as this.