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Canada 2013
Directed by
Denis Villeneuve
90 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


After the success of their work in Prisoners (2013) Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal re-team for this lower key but highly effective story of an associate history professor, Adam (Gyllenhaal), who sees his exact double, Anthony (Gyllenhaal) acting in a movie and tracks him down (conveniently, they both live in the same city).

Adapted from a novel, "The Double” by Jose Saramago, Enemy straddles the interface between horror and thriller but in the psychological sense in both cases. The film opens with some kind of dimly-lit Eyes Wide Shut-like subterranean sexual performance involving naked women in stilettos and large spiders on serving platters, something which is only tangentially referred to again with the film instead following the different responses of the two men to the fact of finding their exact double.  Adam, who is withdrawn and has an emotionally distant relationship with his girlfriend (Melanie Laurent) becomes obsessed by Anthony’s life, whilst the latter, who has  a pregnant wife (Sarah Gadon), uses it as an opportunity to set up a tryst with aforesaid girlfriend. And so the two change places.

Villeneuve doesn’t, however, make things too plot-focussed and at the heart of things is Adam’s anxiety which is so intense that neither he nor we are entirely sure that Antony is not some kind of alter ego projection of the young man's troubled mind (perhaps the source of the spiders and the naked women). Gyllenhaal who got his big break in the alt-universe cult movie, Donnie Darko (2001) is typically fine in depicting Adam’s mental and emotional fragility, whilst Villeneuve’s ending economically alludes to one of the classic images of man’s dark and fearful consciousness. 

To analyze the film’s logic and meaning is somewhat beside the point. That Villeneuve gets it to work so well is testament to his skills as a film-maker.




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