Film Review: ENEMY

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Javier Gullon based on the novel by Jose Saramago
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Sarah Gadon, Melanie Laurent, Isabella Rosselini

After last year’s PRISONERS, Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal team up again for a film for those who find ambiguity thrilling rather than frustrating. Gyllenhaal plays a history professor, Adam, in Canada, bored and boring, finding little to like in either the classroom or in his barely furnished digs despite the presence there of his gorgeous lover, Mary (Sarah Gadon).

When a colleague calls his attention to a movie, he rents it and finds his doppelganger playing a small part. Anthony, also played by Gyllenhaal (you will never confuse the two—he does it that well) has a nicer apartment, a pregnant wife (Laurent) and seems more content with his lot. Adam tracks him down, but when the two meet, it is Adam who shies away, finding something threatening in his double. As the two grapple with why they look alike and what it means, Villeneuve throws out more signs, symbols and clues that even the most engaged viewer can absorb.

But that’s okay because the signs, symbols and clues create a horrific and absorbing landscape that we don’t mind traversing. This is the kind of movie you will flash back on, trying to make sense of every frame, looking for the missing piece. And maybe it doesn’t all fall into a straight narrative path because that’s ambiguity. Each viewer will take his/her own interpretation away.

I doubt anyone can truly explain the last frame. Or the first scene.

Highly recommended if it sounds like something you’d like.

Patti Abbott