As much as I love this poster...

As much as I love this poster…

It’s difficult for me to come up with a decent synopsis for Enemy that hasn’t been over-used. Basically Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers he’s got himself a doppelgänger, Anthony (also Jake Gyllenhaal). And then things get weird, like unnecessarily try-hard weird.

Okay, I’ll back up. There are some great aspects to this film, such as the thematic quality and the tonality. In fact, I cannot wait to see what else director Denis Villeneuve will have up his sleeve in the future, especially taking the only other film of his I saw, Prisoners, into consideration. This guy is fantastic with suspense. My key problem however, is that I’m not sure why the environment in Enemy is so tense to begin with.

The whole scheme is built on this yellow instagram filter and a droning score, and Adam seems unusually nervous. Then again, we don’t really much of his personality to begin with, other than he seems like a disinterested history professor who keeps pissing off his girlfriend (Mélanie Laurent) for one reason or another. Additionally, there’s a ton of tension with very little payoff – it’s kind of laughable, really.

...this one actually makes more sense.

…this one actually makes more sense.

Then when he meets the promiscuous Anthony, Adam gets even more anxious, but why? Honestly none of these characters seem like real people. There’s no explicit communication between these characters, so really everything’s up to implication.

An example would be when Anthony’s wife (Sarah Gadon) is upset after meeting Adam, and proceeds to respond to Anthony’s questions with “I think you know” – the hell does that even mean? If it seems like I’m being super vague, I apologize – but I’m pretty much giving you all the objective stuff we get to know here.

Also much like Prisoners, Enemy is speckled with themes, namely duality, identity (which ironically these characters have very little of, leading me to not really care who is who), dissatisfaction, and control. Oh, and there’s a heavy spider motif – I’ll get back to that. Of course, these themes are far from subtle, observe –

That's how professors write, right?

Because that’s how professors write, right?

If anything, it can be argued that the film has far more to do with awareness than any of these things, but seems to throw the audience off with all of this other stuff in the meantime. Which brings me to the spider thing. Upon first viewing, I’ll admit I had no idea what to make of all that, especially the ending, which is a shame because I’m pretty keen about picking up on this sort of stuff. I was compelled to do some googling, and found this incredibly useful article, which is wracked with spoilers. I applaud this man’s theory on the symbolism here, and if his theory is correct, then Enemy could very easily be one of the better sci-fi thrillers I’ve seen in a while – that is, if it wasn’t for the overwhelming buildup, poor character quality, and overdone nature of everything else.

Enemy is a definite try-hard enigma that simply oozes “WHAT DOES IT MEAN” out of every scene and conversation. The trouble is, it didn’t have to be that way.

Final Grade: C+





About reelgirl

Film lover, kitsch enthusiast, and all around neat gal. You can read what I'm up to at Reel Girl Reviews!

Posted on May 4, 2014, in Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. If you’ve read Poe’s William Wilson or Dostoyevsky’s The Double, would you say that either was an influence?

  2. Unfortunately I have not, though from googling around it seems like Enemy took some liberties on the Saramago story, namely with the spiders. There was a redditor who also offered a really great theory, but I don’t wanna spoil things by re-pasting.

  3. As it happens there’s a movie based on Dos’s Double on the verge of release here. Amazes me how often movies with similar themes arrive almost on top of one another.

    • I’d like to see that one as well.

      I think there’s a special word for coincidences such as that – hearing about a topic for the first time and then have it pop up over and over again throughout the day. Can’t think of what it is, other than “coincidence.”

    • No I don’t think that was it. Chances are there wasn’t really a word to begin with and my brain just likes to make up stories.

  4. Okay, finally picked this up from the video hire this afternoon. Ten minutes in and already I am wondering what medication the director of Prisoners either started or stopped ingesting while he was making this.
    Is it too early for me to say that Enemy is fkng awful?
    The piss-yellow filter on the camera… the silences that attempt to imbue profound significance… the dialogue… C+ is looking like a very generous assessment.

    35 minutes in… and it’s not getting any better. Even at 2x normal speed. And by the way the music is terrible too.

    What’s with the wife? Does she snap, pull out a gun and shoot her husband only to realise she’s shot the professor instead? Is that the trick ending that awaits me here?

    The Double with Jesse Eisenberg is a much better doppelganger movie. For a start it’s got a few laughs.

    52 minute mark… watching this at regular speed would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment.


    And now he’s arguing with himself. Jesse Eisenberg did that too, but that time it was entertaining.

    1 hr 4 min – oh, he’s going upstairs to meet the wife. And having a conversation with the guy in the lift. Ahhh, the big reveal… how do I stop myself from yawning?

    And we’re into the other guy’s wardrobe. Hey, I wonder if he has a secret stash of women’s underwear just like I do?

    And the wife is home. Now for sex! Little does he suspect his double has got the same idea.

    Wow, maybe getting into bed with the other guy’s wife isn’t such a great idea. Whoops, my gf has just twigged and now they’re both driving here.

    Er… they’re not driving any more.

    More of that urine coloured smog. Hey, I like this suit and it’s just my size! Why is there a key

    Fuck, I just screamed at what he found in the bedroom. Long way to go for a bit of excitement. I might have to watch an ep of AHS to wash that image out of my brain…

    Thank you linesmen, thank you ballboys – and thank you, my gracious hostess.

  5. Somewhere, buried deep in the bowels of the internet, is the record of the night that I ran someone else’s blog up to a thousand posts. More or less single handed.

  1. Pingback: Enough of the creepy crawlies. Let’s pig out on cute. | The mind is an unexplored country.

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