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Enemy (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 90 minutes.

Not for children.

Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a university lecturer who is in a failing relationship with his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent), and who sees a film with a minor actor, Anthony (also Gyllenhaal) who looks remarkably like him. Mystified, he tracks the actor down, discovering that Anthony is living with his pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon), who suspects Anthony of continuing an ongoing affair.

What follows is a brilliantly complex thriller that does not let the viewer relax one iota. Based on the novel The Double by Nobel laureate José Saramago, director Denis Villeneuve keeps applying constant tension, greatly aided by a spectacular score by Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans.

Gyllenhaal gives a fine performance in the dual role, capturing the aggressive personality of Anthony while at the same time making Adam reticent, nervous personality believable.

This is a movie that one should attend without reading any movie reviews that give a hint of what’s going on. Javier Gullón has crafted a perceptive script that keeps one wondering what’s really going on here until the movie ends. Then you have time to think about it and put all the hints together to come up with what is really happening on the screen.

Although Gyllenhall’s performance is exceptionally well done, the person who most captivated me was Anthony’s wife, played by Gadon. There is one scene while she is in bed with someone and just stares at him with questioning eyes that still lingers in my memory.

This psychological thriller might not be for everyone, especially if you don’t like to have to work to determine who the characters are and how they all fit together. But if you do, this is a rewarding experience. Villeneuve describes the complex film as well as anyone could. “The logical point of view of the film,” he says, “needs to be blurry and daring – a challenge for the mind. But from the emotional point of view it’s very important that there is a clear path.” It’s that clear path that only became clear to me well after the film had ended.

February 4, 2014