1/4/17

ENEMY - REVIEW


Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Enemy, a strange little movie from Denis Villeneuve, the director of Prisoners and Arrival, about a teacher who discovers that a small-time actor looks exactly like him for some reason and tries to figure out why.

The trailers suggested a thriller but this is really more of a low-key character study with a surreal edge. Enemy keeps you guessing from start to finish and it's likely that, even after the end credits have rolled, you'll still be thinking about it, piecing it all together. After playing a wild-eyed creep in Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal is back with yet another unique, off-beat performance (or two) as both the nervous teacher and his suspicious doppelgänger. Toronto is shot beautifully through a gold filter and Villeneuve proves himself once again capable of merging gritty and strange perfectly, much like Christopher Nolan does, as this one-man-show is framed by nightmarish visions of giant spiders.

As to what the film itself means, the key lies in Gyllenhaal's character and what happens when he and his double interact. Both are in very different relationships, in completely different careers and yet they are basically the same person so figuring out what is happening means connecting everything together by thinking of both main characters as just one person. Mélanie Laurent plays the teacher's on/off girlfriend and Sarah Gadon is his alter-ego's pregnant wife: both characters are just as enigmatic and awkward as their partners. Isabella Rossellini also cameos as Gyllenhaal's mother in one scene that, frankly wasn't all that necessary but which works nonetheless.

There's something unsettling about this odd doppelgänger story but we're never told what it is, which is both frustrating and refreshing. Enemy is a slow-paced but compelling head-scratcher directed and acted with care and what it lacks in dialogs it certainly makes up for in mood.

Worth a look... or two.

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