Enemy - Online Review

'Enemy is ambitious of... just how many inconceivable ways you can insert a malevolent spider into a narrative, amongst other things.'

If nothing else then the perplexing Enemy at least confirms director Denis Villeneuve as a film-maker with ambition. Incendies was ambitious of story and pulled it off. Prisoners was ambitious of genre depiction and visuals and at least gave both a good go. Enemy is ambitious of... just how many inconceivable ways you can insert a malevolent spider into a narrative, amongst other things.

Like most, if not all doppelgänger narratives, it is almost inconceivable to imagine that Enemy is not trying to say something about an individual's fracturing psyche. From there, you're on your own. Jake Gyllenhaal initially is properly introduced as Adam Bell, a rather alone History professor. In time, Villeneuve also brings in Anthony Claire, Adam's double and an actor. Both have private lives apparently somewhat on the rocks, with Adam in an apparently slightly coldly sexual relationship with Mary (Mélanie Laurent) and Anthony at least flirting with infidelity against pregnant partner Helen (Sarah Gadon).

The lines between what is happening to whom and whether it is really happening at all are blurred. The opening scene in some sort of devilishly fantasy secret strip club is referred to later by another character, apparently talking to Adam, who he thinks is Anthony. But does that mean it really happened, and is the spider that features there and reoccurs throughout just some sort of metaphor for the guilt of one (or both) of the men's psyches?

The development of the characters throughout the plot suggests that there is something happening here with internal changes. Adam begins if not quite as successful and ebullient then at least as confident and assured. He may live in a slightly creepily unfurnished apartment, but he seems normal. By the mid-point, we're listening to Adam deliver a lecture we've already heard in noticeably quieter and more uncertain tones and his hermitage life looks less withdrawn by choice and more oddly detached from everyone. Anthony meanwhile, initially seen as slightly stalked by Adam, becomes the stalker, showing up outside Mary's work. Is his Ikea-furnished apartment any more normal than Adam's, or a Patrick Bateman façade?

Frankly, I don't know and that, like perplexing films or not, is part of Enemy's problem. It is without doubt not only obtuse, but sometimes too confused for its own good. However, I'd rather watch Villeneuve try something like this any day of the week than many other things. Even if there are eight hundred metre high spiders.




Enemy was streaming on BlinkBox.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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