Friday, August 15, 2014

Enemy



tags: psychological thriller, mystery

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I watched the movie twice, the second viewing merely 2 hours after the first viewing ended. First time I ever did that. The ending was so bizarre I said out loud "What does it mean?" repeatedly to myself. It was very puzzling, I kept reviewing in my mind the whole movie then decided to watch it again. It's streaming on Amazon free for Prime members anyway, and I had time to kill that day.

The movie stars one of my all-time favorite actors, Jake Gyllenhaal, and directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve who directed my favorite movie of 2013, Prisoners, also starring Jake. Enemy is in the NEEDS MULTIPLE VIEWING TO FULLY UNDERSTAND OR APPRECIATE category, just like another of my JG faves, Donnie Darko. Enemy requires the viewer's full attention, from the first scene to the last, from meaningful dialog to seemingly insignificant but important scenes. Jake did an excellent job portraying two characters and the actress who played his wife is equally great. Her dialog, acting, and facial expressions gave me all the clues to what is really going on with the story.

Highly recommended to viewers who love to over-analyze psychocolgical thrillers.

If you haven't seen the movie, stop reading here because the following contains spoilers.

Plot
A man (Jake Gyllenhaal) attends an erotic show at an underground club that culminates with a naked woman on the verge of crushing a live tarantula spider under her patent leather, high-heeled platform shoe. Elsewhere, a pregnant young woman sits on a bed, alone.
Adam Bell, a solitary college history professor who looks identical to the man at the sex show, rents a movie, Where There's a Will There's a Way, on the recommendation of a colleague. Adam sees an actor in a small role who looks exactly like him.
After doing some research online, Adam identifies the actor as Daniel St. Claire, the stage name for one Anthony Claire. Adam rents the other two films in which Anthony has appeared and develops an obsession with the man, who appears to be his physical doppelgänger. Adam's girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent) becomes troubled by the change in his behavior. Adam stalks Anthony, visiting his office and calling him at home. Everyone, including Anthony's pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon), confuses the two. In a separate scene a truly gigantic spider, species unknown, lurks among and above the skyscrapers of Toronto.
Adam and Anthony eventually meet in a hotel room and discover they are perfectly identical copies of each other, including a scar each man has on his left abdomen above the pancreas. Adam is reserved and bookish while Anthony is hot-headed and sexual. After following Mary to work, Anthony confronts Adam, accuses him of having sex with his wife Helen, and demands Adam's clothes and the keys to his car in order to stage a sexual liaison with Mary, promising to disappear from his life forever afterwards. Adam complies, and Anthony takes Mary to the hotel where the two men met. Meanwhile, Adam breaks into Anthony's apartment and gets into bed with Helen, who seems to realize her partner is different and asks Adam to stay.
At the hotel, Mary panics when she sees the mark where Anthony's wedding ring usually sits and demands to know who he is, as her boyfriend doesn't wear a ring. She forces Anthony to drive her home, but the two get into a fight, and the car is involved in a high-speed crash, presumably killing them both.
The next day Adam dresses in Anthony's clothes, apparently ready to begin life as Anthony. Helen gets out of the shower and enters the bedroom. Adam asks her a question, and, getting no response, follows quickly behind. As he turns the corner, he beholds a tarantula spider big enough to fill the room. It seems strangely frightened of him and cowers against the rear wall. Possibly even more incongruous, however, is Adam's inexplicably muted reaction to this monstrosity. As the camera lingers extravagantly on his face we see that his expression is far more bemused than surprised.
My purview
This is not a doppelgänger movie. Adam and Anthony are one and the same person. Anthony, a D-list unemployed actor, husband, and father-to-be who cheats on his wife, has a different persona in Adam, a drab uninteresting college teacher who lectures on people making the same mistakes over and over.

[Anthony left his wife when she got pregnant, lived in a bare apartment where his mistress comes regularly, took a teaching job as Adam.]

Anthony probably wants to change into a regular guy with the coming of his child and at the same time scared of the responsibility and commitment to his expanding family. He sees the women in his life, his mother and wife, as spiders with their webs ever present to entrap him.

At the end of the movie where the ginormous spider cowers upon seeing Anthony, and Anthony's all-knowing smile, I think means, his desire to change his meandering ways is temporary and he will repeat the same mistakes, will go back to cheating. The new key to the sex club is just too enticing. He'll find another mistress. He is his own worst enemy. History repeating itself.

Maybe I'll change my interpretation after I watch it again.

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