- RatedM18 /GenreMystery, Thriller
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Arthouse director Denis Villeneuve re-teams with Jake Gyllenhaal after 2013’s intensely brilliant and immensely disturbing ‘Prisoners’ to present yet another eerie psychological thriller.
This one, entitled ‘Enemy’ (filmed before ‘Prisoners’), tells the story of a Canadian teacher Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal).
The history professor leads a dull and monotonous life, delivering the same lethargic lecture every day before going home to have routine, passionless sex with his beautiful wife Mary (Melanie Laurent).
The ennui continues right up till the moment he rents a low-budget local comedy called ‘Where There’s a Will There’s a Way.’ In it, he spots a bit-part supporting actor named Anthony Saint Clair (also played by Gyllenhaal) who, uncannily enough, looks exactly like him.
Adam quickly becomes obsessed with his physical double, leading to him stalking Anthony online and finding his address after some snooping. These two may be carbon copies of each other, but in almost every respect, they are polar opposites.
While Adam is sheepish and romantically unfulfilled, Anthony is a confident alpha male and happily married. But despite their contrasting characteristics, there are hints that Anthony’s life isn’t as rosy as it seems to be, suggesting that both share the same dysfunctional subconscious tendencies.
Adam soon makes contact with Anthony and they decide to meet in a motel to sort this whole mess out.
The mystery continues to be downright confounding: Are they twins? Are they clones? Is this all just taking place in Adam’s head?
The film is in no hurry to provide rational conclusions, instead driving its audience headlong into a twisted, creepy existential journey.
They both even start having sexual affairs with the other’s life partner, as the film spirals towards its shocking ending.
Some people will embrace the left-field insanity of the movie’s climax, but chances are, most of the audience will be turned off by it, and it is not hard to understand why.
‘Enemy’ is engrossing and part of the reason is Villeneuve’s dreamy camerawork, turning Toronto into a cold Lynchian fantasy. The viewer is perpetually mesmerised despite the weirdness of it all.
The film’s disquieting score, composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurrian, further enhances the unsettling mood.
Gyllenhaal turns in a masterful performance, with his subtle ticks and distinct mannerisms for his dual roles, making sure that we’re never confused between Adam and Anthony.
Leave your preconceived notions at the door and watch ‘Enemy’ with an open mind.
‘Enemy’ opens in cinemas 10 April 2014