Enemy (2014) Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, & Sarah Gadon. IMDB says: “A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.”
Enemy is about (in the simplest terms) Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a college professor living a very stagnant life until everything changes in an instant. He lives a very simple, cyclical existence–wake up, teach, come home to his bare apartment, eat dinner with girlfriend, have sex (when he seems at his most engaged), say goodnight, sleep alone. When a coworker suggests a movie to Adam, he seeks it out and gets the shock of his life when he realizes an extra in the film looks exactly like him. He has a doppelganger and he becomes obsessed with figuring out how and why this could be.
Jake Gyllenhaal completely pulls it off performing two distinct characters–the more meek, unkempt Adam and his double, Anthony Claire who is much more confident and put together. In a film that’s filled with so many weird and perplexing moments, he’s a constant that keeps you focused and invested. Once the pair of lookalikes meet up everything goes even more haywire than than the foreboding first half, and it’s better for you to stay in the dark as much as possible to get the full experience. All I can say is be prepared for some bizarre, mind-bending occurrences.
Besides the knock out performance by Gyllenhaal, he’s supported by two fantastic actresses. Sarah Gadon plays Anthony’s wife, a woman 6 months pregnant with all her emotions on the surface. Gadon hasn’t been in much, but this movie is a great showcase of what she’s capable of putting on screen. The other love interest is Adam’s girlfriend, Mary played by Mélanie Laurent. She’s stoic and reserved until she’s not, and it’s so very interesting to watch. These women represent two opposite personalities, just as much as the two characters Gyllenhaal depicts. Denis Villeneuve, (who just worked with Gyllenhaal on Prisoners with great results) gives the film a unique and unsettling vision, that pays off even more in combination with the off-kilter editing.
This film is a puzzle and it’s all about the experience of being in Adam’s paranoid and bewildered state. You might not walk out of the theater with any firm answers, but you’ll leave with plenty to ponder. This movie is going to stick with me for a long time, and I’m already anticipating several rewatches to go further down this enigmatic rabbit hole.