film review – Enemy

Enemy is based on José Saramago’s novel O Homem Duplicado and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who becomes obsessed with an actor he’s seen in a movie, a man that looks and sounds exactly like him. Enemy marks the second collaboration between Gyllenhaal and director Denis Villeneuve, the first being the intense drama/thriller Prisoners, and this is a film that keeps you guessing from beginning to end, culminating in one of the best endings I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. It’s a “WTF” moment, there are no two ways about it, but in addition it’s the final puzzle piece you need to figure out what the hell the movie is about. Once it’s over, that scene immediately makes you want to watch Enemy all over again. It’s an immensely gratifying experience: despite its mind-bending ways Enemy is a film that confuses you, disorientates its viewers, but gives its audience everything it needs to make sense of it all. It doesn’t belittle you, it’s not cheap: it’s a well-constructed enigma that humors the people it’s targeted at.

Enemy is the kind of movie that’s hard to review, because you wouldn’t want to give anything away. It’s a film that fares best by a fresh viewing, by you going in without knowing what you can expect. It has a broody trip to offer, a thick uneasy atmosphere akin to David Lynch’s Lost Highway or Brad Anderson’s The Machinist. There’s a sense of desperation, fear and confusion at its center, which makes it work very well: it’s a movie that engulfs you with its forebodingness, pulls you in and refuses to let you go. Enemy presents you with riddles, plays on your curiosity and willingness to see it through, and it doesn’t explain anything. It’s refreshing to watch a movie that doesn’t take its viewers by the hand and doesn’t wrap up everything in a neat little bow, but let’s you figure out its secrets and meaning instead. Because of it Enemy‘s a thinking person’s movie, one that wants you to watch it closely and mull it over. Meanwhile Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon provide you with the mesmerizing performances needed to keep you invested in Enemy‘s emotional arc. Enemy is an example of world-class cinema, a film you definitely don’t want to miss.

Enemy is one of the best mind-benders in a long time. It’s elegant, smart and sometimes even downright terrifying. 9/10


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