808. Enemy (2014)

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7.9 Ingenious and intricate
  • Acting 7.9
  • Directing 7.9
  • Story 8.0
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Running Time: 90 mins


Enemy is a Canadian film about a history teacher who sees a man in a movie he watches who looks exactly the same as him, and then sets out to meet this man.

This is probably the most confusing film I’ve ever seen. It’s got a brilliantly intelligent screenplay, weaved expertly with ingenious hidden links and plot lines, whilst it simultaneously creates a very eerie and disturbing atmosphere that really enticed me. Also, there’s a very solid central performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, and the movie as a whole is truly absorbing to watch.

However, before I get into why this film was so well-written and well-done overall, I need to address the fact that it’s not a total masterpiece, so I’m going to compare it at some points to Jonathan Glazer’s sci-fi art film, Under The Skin, which I thought was a masterpiece.

Now, my main qualm with this movie is that it was unsatisfying. It’s full of genius imagery, and has a near flawless story, with every plot hole cancelled out, however the way that it was put across frustrated me, as I was unable to really get into the deeper, more obscure elements of the plot before it was over.

Under The Skin, on the other hand, manages to take you along with its story. In that film, you feel right there, in the moment, massively helped by Jonathan Glazer’s stunning directing and Scarlett Johansson’s mind-blowing performance, and that’s what makes it coherent, exciting, and ultimately satisfying. Instead, I felt that Enemy was a little too unexplained at points, and in the end I felt as if I was being dragged along on a story that wasn’t giving the due time to fully grasp its concept.

That said, having looked at full explanations and analyses, I do understand the hidden messages, themes, plot and deeper meanings of this film, which I of course won’t spoil for you, however I felt disappointed and slightly frustrated by the fact that I wasn’t given the opportunity to grasp it while in the moment, as I could in Under The Skin.

Despite the fact that I’ve gone on for so long about that, I have to say how excellent the film is on all other levels. Its story is watertight. It may be too confusing to get on first viewing, but it really is a flawless plot once you get to thinking about it, and that impressed me.

In addition to the excellent screenplay, the central performances by Jake Gyllenhaal are excellent. He pulls off the two characters he plays so well, and really makes the concept of this convincing and engrossing, as well as playing off the deeper aspects of his characters fantastically.

Finally, on a technical level, this film is absolutely fantastic. With a haunting and mysterious score in the background, you can’t be anything but engrossed. Also, the cinematography on top of the score really adds to the eerie and disturbing atmosphere of the film, whilst the editing, which I thought was unbelievably good, really added to the complexity and coherence of the otherwise mind-bending plot.

Overall, this gets a 7.9, because it was indeed a great feat, with a brilliant central performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, a thrilling and intriguing plot and fantastic technical achievements, however I just felt frustrated and disappointed by the way that this film ultimately carries out its story.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com