Sunday, August 24, 2014
Enemy is the story of two Jake Gyllenhaals, that is the only thing that I could gather once the movie ended. The movie is ridiculously oblique and I had a tough time both deciphering and digesting the ending. Prisoners on the other hand, another collaboration between Gyllenhaal and Denis Villeneuve before Enemy, keeps the audience glued to their seats instead of disgusting them and making them cringe, which is what Enemy largely does. Villeneuve strives for the non-linear narrative technique, trying to showcase that the entire movie is in parts, which once when finished will complete the entire picture, sadly doesn’t satisfy the readers curiosity or provide you with any apparent answers. If a movie is marketed as a thriller, the audience will pay their money where they don’t get cheap thrills, yet don’t have to crack open their skulls, while trying to decipher the meaning. Enemy gives you neither.
It is a story about body doubles, a theme that has been wrung out of almost all of its juice in literature and movies. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam Bell, a college history professor who finds out quite by accident that he has a body double in Anthony Clare, who is a struggling actor. They are the same on all counts and this both terrifies and intrigues Adam and he ends up stalking Anthony, leading him to his house, where Adam gets to know that Anthony is married. The two ultimately meet, but if the audience is hoping for any face off, they are hugely disappointed because there is none. Instead the meeting is supremely tame, adding to the further obtuseness and obliqueness of the movie. Gyllenhaal is surrounded by supporting characters; Adam has a girlfriend, with whom he has angry sex every day. The rough sex is to fill up the gaps in their conversatios and is a signal of their doomed relationship. His mother calls him regularly and checks up on him, something that he doesn’t quite appreciate. Anthony has a wife who is pregnant with their first child; incidentally both the wife and the girlfriend are blonde, maybe this is of some significance, but whatever that might be, it was completely lost on me.
Interlaid with a recurring and surreal spider motif throughout the movie, what Enemy is able to achieve is a level of creepiness and eeriness in the negative sense of the words, which will probably keep audiences away from the movie. Gyllenhaal wears a lost look through the major part of the movie, except for one scene where he rehearses a potential climactic showdown as Anthony with Adam.
Though I don’t term myself to be a film critic just yet, but I do enjoy an incomprehensible movie just as much as the next film critic. Sadly, with Enemy, I do not have the slightest motivation to re-watch it so that I can figure out what its bizarre ending signified. Mark my words, no matter how surrealist Enemy is, it is no Mulholland Drive or Lost Highway and that is what makes the movie even more frustrating.