Enemy – Surreal
Gearing up for the end of the year, it’s interesting to watch so many films in a short period of time. While 2013, was a bit of a stinker for film, it seems that there has been a minor Renaissance in the indie film genre where big actors, which isn’t a huge surprise, are taking more risk on small films. Of course it’s hyperbole for me to think that big actors never take chances on small film, but with the “big name actor” being replaced with more “well-known” and “character actors” it’s great that the embrace of indie film is alive and well, especially out of the A24 Films. This has been somewhat of a banner year for A24. Following great reception for films like “The Spectacular Now” and “Spring Breakers” in 2013, 2014 has featured a wider assortment of film including “Enemy;” a surreal ride into, well, I’m still not really sure, but it’s a ride that should be worth your time if your a fan of whatever “Enemy” actually is.
Adam, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a history teacher in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who lives a rather mundane wife, outside of his late night sex romps with his girlfriend Mary. Upon the suggestion of one of his colleagues, Adam watches the film “When there is a will, there is a way.” While watching, Adam notices one of the actors looks like him, Upon further review, Adam discovers the actor looks exactly like him and his obsession begins. This is where I’ll leave the synopsis, because half of what makes “Enemy” intriguing is the lengths that Adam goes to find his doppelganger, and figure out what is and isn’t real.
The one word that you will hear a lot of people blurt out when it comes to “Enemy” will be “mindfu*k.” Yes, “Enemy” is a bit of a mindfu*k especially when it comes to two scenes specifically with spiders involved. That is where the film takes that surreal turn that will either engross you further into the film, or will completely disconnect you. However, upon further inspection of the film, the use of arachnid imagery, and/or spiders and webs, is a major theme throughout.
Gyllenhaal’s performance, as usual, is both creepy and wonderful. He has the “boy next door/psycho next door” act down and plays it up as both Adam, the milquetoast history teacher, and Anthony, the third-rate actor, very well. While not as great and effective as his turn as Lou Bloom in “Nightcrawler” Gyllenhaal’s performance will still go down as the best performance this year by an actor playing multiple roles in the same film, sorry Jesse Eisenberg.
All in all, “Enemy” is an interesting take on duality, and the id, ego, and superego. The performance of Gyllenhaal sells the film, and the use of the city, it’s landscapes and “web-like” infrastructce gives the film an added layer.
Fun Fact: “Enemy” is based on the 2002 novel “The Double” by Jose Saramago.