University lecturer Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is feeling that the end of his relationship with his girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent) is very near. One night whilst Adam is watching a film he spots a minor actor that looks just like him. He becomes obsessed with meeting his double, finally tracking him down and discovering his name is Anthony (Jake Gyllenhaal). He also learns that Anthony has a pregnant wife called Helen (Sarah Gadon). Once Adam and Anthony engage each other, a complex and dangerous struggle ensues that looks at duality and identity, where only one man will survive.
Enemy is the type of film that you cannot look away from for even a brief second; it craves your attention in infinite detail. Such is the structure of the storyline that even the smaller moments provide clues to what is really happening. Yet its tough uncompromising style can make it hard to follow, there are times where it feels like the story has completely bypassed everything and changed track entirely. What it’s actually doing is opening up another stream of duality that either Adam or Anthony could be engaged it at any one time.
Working with the doppelganger theme creates this blurred world of who is the right person or are they the two sides of the same person in split bodies? Its constant questioning is why this movie is a deeply psychological piece of work. There is no set pattern as to what the viewer should feel or whom they should side with.
Director Denis Villeneuve, who previously gave us the outstanding Prisoners, has taken a side step away from the usual mystery thriller and created this hybrid mix of drama and thriller mixed with symbolisms and metaphors. This isn’t your usual movie that has a set structure; instead it creates its own path for story-telling. Villeneuve has taken elements of David Lynch’s work and decided to have a pop at creating a swirling mesmerizing psycho-analytical movie that doesn’t adhere to normal movie conventions. What is right? What is wrong? There is no middle ground and that is why Enemy is such a damn fine watch. It creates more questions that it gives answers.
Gyllenhaal’s double work here is some of the best twin acting seen on screen. Polar opposites at first, but as we dive deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole soon the two guys are seemingly sharing the same patterns in life. Gyllenhaal makes it look easy for during his time as Adam, a rather quiet and timid man that could be afraid of his own shadow. It’s the role of Anthony that see’s Jake channel some demonic styling that creates a character who never sits right, but that’s the whole point of Anthony and the film in general. Riveting to watch Gyllenhaal play both sides with such ease and create such different humans.
Enemy is best watched without too much reading into the storyline before hand. Its lucid moments are soon removed and taken over by terror inducing moods. This is a movie that challenges the viewer to have an answer come the end, but is it the right answer?