MRR Review: "Enemy"

Photo Credit: A24

Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: Febuary 06, 2014
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Genre: Mystery / Thriller

A good psychological thriller gets the minds of audiences working, while keeping them on the edge of their seats, often revealing an unforeseen twist near the end of the film. "Enemy" accomplishes this with fervor, keeping viewers guessing from the opening of the movie to the minute the credits roll. Adam is a university professor who has problems with his girlfriend, but when he sees his doppelganger in a movie, he sets out to find his look-alike. Filled with erotic symbols, tainted relationships and mind-boggling situations, this film is perfect for the viewer who likes to take an active role in the movie-watching experience.

In the beginning of the film, a voice message of a woman plays telling one of the main characters that she does not like the apartment he chose. The man, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, opens a package to reveal a key that he then uses to open a door and lead several other men through the entrance. Audiences are brought to a room filled with men watching a woman perform an obscene act onstage. When two other naked women enter the stage, they bring in a silver tray, lifting the lid to reveal a tarantula.

Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a disinterested and somewhat depressed history professor living in Toronto who generally avoids colleagues and has a complicated relationship with his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent), especially when it comes to their sex life. One day after teaching a class, a colleague approaches Adam and suggests that he watch a certain movie. Despite his lack of interest in movies, Adam decides to watch it. He is stunned when he sees an actor in the movie who looks and sounds exactly like him. Eager to learn about this mysterious look-alike, Adam begins to hunt down the actor, known as Anthony Clair, and discovers that he works for an agency in Toronto.

Anthony is an angry small-time actor who has a pregnant wife named Helen (Sarah Gadon). When Adam and Anthony meet, their worlds collide, but their differences in personalities and mannerisms do not outweigh their eerie similarities. When their romantic relationships begin to unravel, Adam and Anthony must discover their true identities.

"Enemy" is a fast-paced film that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, flitting from one scene to the next without giving audiences a chance to breathe. This pacing, coupled with a number of confusing scenes that leave the viewer to draw his own conclusions, may irk some viewers who enjoy more straightforward films. However, director Denis Villeneuve caters to a different public, weaving together a story that is both intelligent and fresh. The ending is just as abrupt as many other scenes in the film. It gives little explanation of what truly occurred during the story aside from what audience members have already deduced. Because of this, "Enemy" is the type of film that certainly calls for a second viewing, if not a third, to truly grasp the significance of each occurrence and understand the gravity of the plot.

Despite its categorization as a thriller, this film contains very little action or scary content. Rather, its thrilling aspect comes from the confusing and increasingly creepy progression of the lives of these two men and their relationships and questionable sanity. Audiences should not watch "Enemy" expecting an action film, but it is perfect for problem-solving viewers who enjoy trying to keep up with a complex and often confusing plot.

Although the story is cleverly told, it is nothing without the acting talents that bring its characters to life. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a stand-out performance as both Adam and Anthony. The actor shifts his mannerisms, vocal tone and even his posture to create two completely different characters who look identical. He nails the gloomy, disheveled Adam perfectly, and he is convincing as the heated actor Anthony. Mélanie Laurent does not disappoint as Mary, portraying her pent-up anger and frustration with just the right amount of emotion, and Sarah Gadon is equally impressive in her performance of Helen. Both of the women's characters are complex and interesting, giving audiences a breath of fresh air from the stereotypical females found in most films.

Moviegoers looking for an interesting movie full of symbolism, plot twists and psychological elements are sure to enjoy "Enemy." Although this film may not appeal to every viewer, its unique characters and clever plot cannot be denied. This is a complex film that explores intimacy and relationships as well as the power and deception of man's innermost desires.

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