Alright… so, Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is a Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) directed picture from the script by Javier Gullon, which is based on the novel, The Double, by Jose Saramago. I haven’t yet read the novel, but as soon as I get my hands on it, and most importantly when I find the time, I’ll be definitely ready to dive deep inside the plot, mainly to dig a bit more, for our director Denis and his screenwriter Javier here, are artistically going to a different alley, but at the same time and under the similar atmosphere, which I’m sure what Saramago has written on the pages of his wonderful novel.
Our central character, Adam, limned passionately, I should say, by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a history teacher, who decides to watch a film and then on the screen of his laptop, he notices an extra, who looks like him. So, Adam, now curious and obviously confused, begins to perform a light search on the actor. Who wouldn’t, right? – Adam discovers that the actor’s name is Anthony. So, he seeks him out, meaning the game begins.
I venerate films when they try to test the mind of the viewer. Honestly, as much as puzzling the plot, the fun becomes more palatable. And, Enemy is one of those films. And, often, when it comes to a plot like Enemy, which I’m sure depends on the director and his/her style, the pacing, when it’s more slower the better the film turns out to be. Like, first of all, whether the script is an original piece or based on a novel, like this one is, the director must comprehend its atmosphere. The look of the film itself, and the setting. In Enemy, Denis, who is by the way, a master film-maker, steps never too far away from not capturing the importance of the gloomy atmosphere of the script. No worries, I’m not on the mission to spoil the film. Thought to give you an idea first what makes Enemy authentic.
If you ask me, I look for the atmosphere of a picture. Obviously a good picture from a master film-maker, for the atmosphere, the city, background images, extras, sky, trees, you name it, are all characters. They must all communicate with the viewer. Whatever is captured by the camera and then presented on the screen must have its own unique purpose. So, in Enemy, obviously we’re paying attention first to the skies. Then the buildings, apartments, and when you see the picture, you’ll see that the apartment buildings are all captured via wonderfully-paced aerial shots and birds-eye-view shots. This is essential to the plot. Remember, I’m not spoiling this. But, during watching the film, you’ll for sure scratch your head and mess your hair, and who knows, you might, like myself, hold your face in your hands.
So, we got the buildings, the atmosphere and all that. But, don’t forget about them. Now, let’s pay attention to the characters, especially the performances. There’s definitely something odd going on. The best line in the film, the way it’s said, and in style it’s performed by Anthony’s wife, Helen (Sarah Gadon), is “Are you lying to me?.” – Alright, you can pause the picture. Look at her face. Then rewind the picture in your mind or the movie itself, go back in the beginning, where there is a shot of Helen sitting on the bed, back to us, nude and pregnant. This is an important clue. I truly had more fun watching the film the second time around. The third time, I’m sure it’s more fun. And, I can’t wait.
Adam, who is a history teacher, teaches to the students bread and circuses. In politics this phrase is used to explain the creation of the public’s approval, though not via any excellent public policy or service, but through means of hindrance, bifurcation. Similar to the atmosphere of the film, Helen’s spicy dialogue above and her in the beginning on the bed, bread and circuses, what Adam is talking about, is also quite essential to the plot.
And then there are the dreams. In one of them, a giant spider is walking over the city. This is what Adam sees and it is the dreams that keep him up at night. The deeper we go from the surface with the characters, the more dangerous it gets. Oh, and not to forget, it’s more than just creepy. There are no cliches in Denis’ work here. There is enough paranoia and Hitchcockian tension from the beginning, which later, slowly, makes a turn towards Polanski-ish enclave. And that very last shot of the film might just scar your brain forever. You’ve been warned.