Director: Denis Villeneuve
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a college history professor who leads an average life. One day, while watching a movie, he sees an extra who looks exactly like him. He is suddenly compelled to seek out this lookalike, and actor named Anthony (Jake Gyllenhaal). Finding Anthony could change the trajectory of his whole life.
It is going to be hard to fully talk about what we think of "Enemy" without at least a few spoilers, so please be warned if you choose to read any further. On the surface and from the way the film is described, "Enemy" appears to be about two strangers who are doppelgängers and are drawn together, causing dramatic changes in each other's lives. Adam and Anthony, both played by Jake Gyllenhaal, are two very different personalities, and as expected, Gyllenhaal does amazingly in both of these roles. But really, when is he ever not amazing? Adam is a very average man, unremarkable and just sort of floats through life with no greater ambitions or wants, neglecting his girlfriend Mary, played by Melanie Laurent, and teaching at a university. Anthony enjoys the seedier side of life and has a bad temper. When Adam sees someone who looks like him as an extra in a film, he becomes obsessed with finding out the truth and identity of this other person. The more he digs into the mystery, the more he gets in way too deep, so much so that his life, the life of his girlfriend, and the life of Anthony's wife Helen, played by Sarah Gadon, might be permanently changed forever.
From the get-go, we know this is going to be the type of film that is left open for interpretation on several levels. We rarely do this in our reviews, but ******SPOILERS****** The most popular theory is that it would appear Adam and Anthony are in fact two different personalities within the same person, meaning the entire movie takes place in the subconscious of the main character as he struggles with infidelity and introspection. There is always a psychological agenda lurking in the background of "Enemy," but for us, it doesn't always add up. Having a film take place in the subconscious of Adam/Anthony makes everything that happens essentially a dream sequence, giving the director carte blanche to put whatever misleading information he wants on the screen, including giant spiders, to intentionally make his story more convoluted. This, as is the case with many films of this nature, gives it the guise of being something intellectual. This theory is actually far less interesting than if Anthony and Adam were literally two different people as the subconscious/split-personality thing has been handled on screen time and time again in many different ways. Here, as much as we wanted it to be, it might be dark and depressing, but it's not disturbing, and this is not because we "don't understand it." Many times, people see a film that is abstract and opened for interpretation and they conclude an open ended-ness automatically makes it a great film. Unfortunately for "Enemy," this isn't the case. There are no big a-ha! moments where the director reveals his intentions, it's all open to personal interpretation.
When something is written and crafted with such an open ended feel, much of the audience won't bother trying to interpret what they see, and no matter which way the film is viewed and what theory you subscribe to, the journey through this movie is nothing all that interesting. We shouldn't have to watch a movie, research a movie, and then watch it again to find out what we just watched. Sure, maybe this is naive of us, and hell, maybe we'll give it another go in 5-10 years, but right now, apart from some excellent performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, it's simply rather forgettable.
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?