Right now, I am sitting in my apartment stunned. I am taken aback at the moment that I don’t know what words to use. I am not sure if the review I am about to write will sound like a review. I just got done watching “Enemy,” the new film with Jake Gyllenhaal and I am absolutely knocked flat. But at the same time, I have no idea how express my feelings. When I describe the plot, it will sound far from anything resembling a cohesive narrative. Plus, it is going to be hard to really discuss much of my reactions and feelings because I wanted to keep these initial thoughts as spoiler-free as possible. This review is really going to whore itself out, and I apologize for that, but tonight I am rabid with excitement. I don’t just want you to see “Enemy,” I need you to see it.
That is essentially what I look for when I sit down to watch a psychological thriller. I want to be speechless; I want something I am going to think about for days, even weeks. I want to brainstorm theories and clues that lead to figuring out the story. This is exactly what “Enemy” did for me tonight; it reminded me of why I fell in love with the psychological thrillers in the first place. I sure glad it did too, as I feel the genre has been gasping on life support for over ten years now. The last great year of psychological thrillers was, in my opinion, 2001 (a year that gave us “Memento,” “Mulholland Drive,” and “Vanilla Sky” among others.) and while other films were sprinkled in here and there, nothing matched the capacity of what those three special films touched. (I still love “Shutter Island” but I will say that “Inception” is more action thriller than psychological thriller). I took a chance on “Enemy” tonight and it blew my mind completely. I can say this much about the film, as of July, 25th 2014, “Enemy” is my favorite film of the year so far and it is going to take something truly special to knock this off the pedestal. I think you all need to get out and see this now, before everybody starts to discover it and everybody starts talking about it. If I can get enough of you to see this, I would definitely like to write a second review of this, so we can all get into the real thematic meat of this thing and try to decipher all the story threads “Enemy” beholds.
The story is going to sound mysterious but here it goes. We see Jake Gyllenhaal walk down a dark corridor and take a key out of his pocket to unlock a door. Once inside, he joins a circle of greasy, sweaty, sleazy men watching some kind of erotic show. After this initial scene is done, we see that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character’s name is Adam and he is a professor of history at an unnamed college. We see that he is a glum individual who seems to do the exact same routine every day. Then one day, a co-worker recommends a movie to him and although claiming he hates movies, decides to take the guy up on his recommendation. Adam sits down to watch the movie and he can’t believe his eyes and neither could I, but there was Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie Adam was watching.
Weird, huh? At this point, I had no idea if “Enemy” was going to be a doppelganger movie or a case of mistaken identity or what. But what was happening, was keeping me on the edge of my seat, with my eyes glued to the screen. Adam then goes into full stalker mode and discovers that the actor in the movie is named Anthony Claire (who is also played by Gyllenhaal). Adam wants to meet Anthony face-to-face, and Anthony is reluctant at first but eventually gives in. The first stand-off between Adam and Anthony is awkward one, a situation where Adam eventually retreats. Also, the rest of the movie Adam’s girlfriend (Melanie Laurent) and Anthony’s wife (Sarah Gadon) have a very troubled time telling the two men apart.
And…well…that pretty much covers it. By that I mean, that gives you a basic outline of the film’s plot without getting into potential spoiler territory. If you don’t like movies like this, movies where you have to pay attention, movies where there is a puzzle to put together, where there is a riddle to be solved, where there is a game to play, then I strongly suggest you skip “Enemy” altogether. If you are hooked on that description alone, then I highly recommend you track “Enemy” down as soon as possible. After the movie was over, I searched backward, making sure I saw what I saw, trying to make some sense out of what I just watched. I got online and tried to find clues and theories of other film critics. This is all wildly exciting to me, and I hope it is for you too. I have barely scratched the surface of what “Enemy” offers; I haven’t discussed the mysterious dialogue and references to Adam’s college lectures and the seemingly endless amounts of spiders.
Oh, and the ending is quite possibly the most shocking ending you’ll see all year. I know we still have five months until 2015, but I am calling it right now. If you see this movie for any reason, see it for the ending.
The film strongly benefits from a rousing performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. His job in this movie isn’t easy, as he is essentially playing two separate characters. Adam is quiet and reserved somebody who keeps to himself on a normal basis. He is committed to his job and to the few people in his life, but other than that, Adam is an island unto himself. I would not describe Anthony in the same way, Anthony is full of life and there is a great energy to his scenes. Gyllenhaal could not have played both parts better, breathing unique life into both the personas. Even though Sarah Gadon and Melanie Laurent don’t have nearly as much time onscreen as Gyllenhaal does, they both do supreme work in their roles too. Add the surprising cinematography and the haunting score by Daniel Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, and you’ve got something worth remembering.
One goal of this blog is steer my readers toward something, to see whether or not they like it or not. Every time I write something on this blog, I am definitely selling you something. I either try to keep away from a movie or shove it down your throat. If I my writings have inspired you to form a mere hint of curiosity toward a movie, whether old or new, then I my goal is complete. I am begging you to see “Enemy” ASAP though, I want to have another discussion, I want to explore every frame of every scene of this movie. You can also bet that this won’t be the last time I watch this movie. One thing is for sure, I will definitely write a second-look of this movie and I hope all of you join in on the conversation.
FINAL GRADE: A+