Acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve teams up once more with Jake Gyllenhaal in the truly superlative mystery/thriller Enemy.
The story ignites when a university professor sees his doppelgänger as an extra in a film. The professor, Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal), can be quickly recognised as a timid and introverted person; his gaze always low and social chit-chat level set to zero. However, we understand he’s in some kind of relationship with Mary (Melanie Laurent) though we’re initially unsure how far into the relationship they are. He clearly faces the dilemma of tracking his double and whether he should contact him, and after some self-restraint he identifies the actor as Anthony Claire (Jake Gyllenhaal again of course).
Enemy is a film best viewed when you know as little about it as possible so I’ll cut the plot summary there. Saying this, I must honestly state that I haven’t seen a film like this for quite some time. When I finished this film I instantly loved it and was compelled to do some 30 minutes of research into the exact meaning behind it’s mystery, after doing so I loved it even more.
Villeneuve creates a world of grimly dark reality, an even more despondent Tim Burton, by using a yellow filter for the whole film and constantly having shadows cramping all scenes à la German Expressionism he creates a set of relentless claustrophobic compositions. Not to mention the spine-tingling soundscape, piercing and dictating the pace of the narrative with such astuteness.
The film’s low IMDB score is a real shame and I believe it’s because the film is so difficult to understand that it could put some people off, but with half an hour of research you’ll see it wasn’t all that challenging to comprehend after all, like when someone tells you the answer to a surprisingly easy riddle. Moreover, if it were up to me I would give Villeneuve an Oscar nomination for best director, or best adapted screenplay for Javier Gullón, as both would really deserve at least that. Gyllenhaal has to be commended for his impressive work, portraying two polar opposite characters in one film with great ability and bravura, although I think his performance in Nightcrawler was ever so slightly better.
An overlooked gem this year, a film that is both unique and mystifying, it’s a real real shame it hasn’t received more attention and praise from the general public and the elite award ceremonies.