Overview: A man looks to speak to his exact lookalike after spotting him in a film. Roxbury Pictures; 2013; Rated R; 90 min
Complex: Film can do a lot of things. It can tell a story that inspires, lead people to think, motivate , change lives… and much, much more. Director Denis Villeneuve understands the power and influence film has on its audience as proven with his films Incendies and Prisoners. Enemy stands as proof not just of Villeneuve’s understanding of the capability of film, but of his assurance that he can stretch those boundaries. This film offers a complex central narrative spun into a web of interpretations. This film has depth and bend. The revisited labyrinth is too complex for my interpretation of the film’s glaring questions to matter. So, while the internet is catching a slow fire from heated discussions on the topic, I’ll leave you, reader, to research those yourself. Good luck.
Cinematography: This film is eccentric not just in narrative but in aesthetic. Cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc assists in sharpening the viewer’s focus through color and imagery. Bolduc’s camera work and Villeneuve’s direction are a brilliant pairing. Hints are hidden in each frame before we know to look for them. Their combined vision rivals some of the best duos out there (think Roger Deakins and Andrew Dominik).
Gyllenhaaled: This is an actor’s film. Melanie Laurent’s subtly expressive face illustrates a quietly confused and devastated Mary and Sarah Gadon adds some of the film’s most obvious weight as Helen. But, this is Jake Gyllenhaal’s movie. Gyllenhaal, having already hit a stride takes his career to the next level. His ability to embody two different (?) characters is outstandingly pleasing. The director/star duo worked together before on Prisoners (which capitalized on the obsessive, searing energy Gyllenhaal established in Zodiac with similar auteur David Fincher) and their repairing then seemed inevitable, but my boy Jakey G (made that up) was not originally attached to be the star here. Names such as Javier Bardem and Christian Bale were asked to take part but decided not to do so. I can’t imagine these dual roles played any better, even by the stouter screen presence of those heavyweights.
Overall: Enemy offers glimpses of film genius, an ascending step on Villenueve’s journey to greatness highlighted by an aesthetic from Nicolus Bolduc that teeters between beautiful and nightmarish. Yes, the final sequence is insane, the dread and suspense is Hitchcockian in both mood and motive, and the final implications are haunting, but it’s Vellenueve’s direction and Gyllenhaal’s performance that linger around longest in the darker corners of the mind.