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Dan's Review: "Enemy" falls short at the end
by DAN METCALF, JR.
Apr 04, 2014 | 4268 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jake Gyllenhaal and Mélanie Laurent in Enemy  - © 2014
Jake Gyllenhaal and Mélanie Laurent in Enemy - © 2014
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Enemy (A24)

Rated R for some strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Joshua Peace, Tim Post, Kedar Brown, Darryl Dinn, Misha Highstead, Megan Mann, Alexis Uiga.

Written by Javier Gullón, based on a novel by José Saramago.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve.

GRADE: 

REVIEW:

Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the ‘evil twin’ plot was prevalent in film and TV shows. As soon as producers learned about split-screen technology (“Hey, we can have TWO Spocks!), the meme was used so much it became cliché. Enemy is a movie with a similar device that takes the ‘evil twin’ idea into strange territory.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Adam, a boring history professor who lives a very mundane, loveless life. Even though he has a regular non-committal sexual relationship with his girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent), Adam trudges through his routine without much excitement. That changes when he decides to break from his monotonous habits one night and he rents a movie from a video store. While watching the movie, he notices an actor playing a small role that looks exactly like him. After doing some research, he discovers that the actor is named Anthony (also Gyllenhaal) an adventurous man living in a high rise with a beautiful pregnant wife named Helen (Sarah Gadon).

As Adam and Anthony get closer to meeting, their lives show signs of similarities. Adam’s mother (Isabella Rossellini) even alludes to some sort of failed acting career, while assuring him he has no twin. After the two men meet, one of them hatches an evil plot that will end in dire circumstances.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but in the end - there’s a spider.

I was intrigued with Enemy for most of the film. Gyllenhaal’s performance as two very different (but same) characters should not be overlooked. Laurent and Gadon compliment him with equally strong portrayals.

For most of the film, there was a great mystery and dynamic that explored something deeper than the ‘evil twin’ cliché, and kept me guessing as to where it would end.

The problem with Enemy was the ending, which shed all subtlety and went for an ‘in-your-face’ visual metaphor that made little sense and left me more than a little unsatisfied. The difficulty was not that I didn’t get it (I did), it was that I could not help but get it after the ‘shocking’ twist that abruptly ends the film – and betrayed the movie’s reality-ground setting for something completely off the wall. I suppose Enemy is movie with a bad case of ADD, like the dog in Pixar’s Up when he stops mid-sentence to shout, “SQUIRELL!”

Look out for spiders. They can kill an otherwise good movie like Enemy.

 

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