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Enemy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
11 01 2015

ImageDirected by Denis Villeneuve
Sometimes a film mugs you with its weirdness, jangles your nerves, fills you with the kind of dread that hangs around long after a bad dream. This is one of those.  I've very little idea what was going on here, or what it all amounted to, but every minute seemed terrifically real - the unnerving, unreadable things behind closed doors, the anonymity of flesh, and punctuating them the inhuman cityscape of Toronto seen always as if through a haze of brownish-grey filter, a physical manifestation of the sludge of depression.

 

Adam is a rather shambling history college lecturer. From the beginning there's something worrying about him, his unwelcoming apartment, his social awkwardness, his obscure relationship with his girlfriend, his heartfelt lectures about tyranny. One day watching a movie rental he spots a bit-part actor who looks exactly like him, and develops a compulsion to find out his identity and meet with him.  This turns out to be Anthony, a bullish motorbike-riding alpha male with a heavily pregnant wife. True doppelgangers, they even share the same scar. Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliantly credible at inhabiting both roles, in fact it's hard to think of any other Hollywood presence who could have done it. And Isabella Rosselini as his mother is another treat I hadn't anticipated.

What can it mean? Do they in any real way both exist? If so, how? Or is it a projection by an unreliable narrator, or wish-fulfilment, or just a surreal expression of dark desires? This is something you will be pondering for hours, days to come, and it's unfathomable. Add odd, disturbing scenes in a private men's club, the occasional, troubling, infiltration out of nowhere of spiders of varying sizes, and any theory you or your friends may argue about afterwards about what is really going on falls down somewhere. And yet like a dream it hangs together, full of dread yet sublimely, deliciously crazy, and somehow, even while physically reeling from the final shock, I felt hugely euphoric at its audacity.
And arachnophobes beware!
Seen at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle, 9 January 2015 
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