February 1, 2015


Denis Villeneuve, 2014
Adam discovers that he has an exact double of himself and is tortured by the discovery, unable to resist locating his twin.

Villeneuve sets the tone immediately in the film, setting up a dark and menacing piece. He doesn't hold anything back really, using a tense score similar to Jonathan Glazer's 2014 Under the Skin and going heavy with muted color palette, with golden glows similar to The Assassination of Jesse James but without the radiance. Perhaps a bit too over-stylized, as that very color palette gets a bit wearing after a while. Villeneuve's world that he puts Adam in isn't a very inviting one. In a sense it's like a version of the futuristic urban landscape shown in Her but with a heroin needle sticking out of the arm. Gyllenhaal's Adam character (kudos to Gyllenhaal for another quite good dark performance here) is one who immediately appears jaded from the monotony of his daily grind. He teaches at a local university, returns home to his small apartment with a small window of time to have sex with his apathetic girlfriend, wakes up and does it all over again. Discovering the clone-like version of himself in the indie movie doesn't invigorate him but disturbs him. He begins his pursuit of Anthony AKA Daniel St. Claire, but it's a confusing one.

As the scenes play out of him attempting to connect with Anthony, there was a lot of internal dialogue going on in my head saying things like wait, why wouldn't he say this or that or why is he acting like that. These actions and reactions only contribute to the confusing tone of the movie. The spider symbolism is forced upon you. The film works with themes like identity and one's perception of reality, but these themes are juggled with imagery that falls into disorientation. The premise is intriguing, but the psychological thriller elements would be better in the hands of someone like Hitchcock who can really get into a general audiences head, and not just a pocket of niche but forgiving cinephiles.

Villeneuve is certainly a creative auteur, there are nods to Salvador Dali's Les Elephants with the image of the spider walking over the city. Some of the dream sequences are reminiscent of David Lynch's work. But the fault is that he gets a little too ambitious with it and doesn't maintain organization. Ultimately things get lost in the abstraction. Villeneuve makes bold decisions with the material in José Saramago's novel The Double (which the film is adapted from)but he goes a bit too far into the abstract realm. The ending of the film isn't very satisfying as it's very eyebrow-raising. It would be okay if there was a bit more construction on getting there, but he confuses the audience with contradictions and vague illusions. Enemy feels like an incomplete product with an ending that is meant to wow without having to fully answer WHY.

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