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Adam Bell is a Toronto area History college professor. He is a rather somber man, largely because he is stuck in a routine, which includes a relationship with his live-in girlfriend, Mary. While watching a rental movie, he spots an actor in a bit part that looks like him. He becomes obsessed with finding out about this double of his. He learns that the actor's stage name is Daniel Saint Claire, whose legal name is Anthony Claire. Claire is a Toronto based actor with only a few on-screen credits, and is married to a woman named Helen who is currently several months pregnant. Adam then becomes obsessed with meeting Claire, who he learns upon first sighting that they look exactly the same, from the facial hair to a scar each has, but Claire who outwardly is more "put together" than Adam. Their lives become intertwined as Claire himself ends up becoming obsessed with Adam, but in a slightly different way. Written by
According to the director, Denis Villeneuve, Javier Bardem was offered the lead role but the actor felt he didn't suit the character. Christian Bale was also offered the role and he wanted to do it but couldn't due to scheduling conflicts with other projects. See more »
In the apartment scene, although Helen is seen putting on nothing but a dark top, during the following shots bra straps can be seen underneath. See more »
[leaving a message]
Hello, darling, it's your mother. Thank you for showing me your new apartment. I'm worried about you. I mean, how can you live like that? Anyway, would you call me back? Let's get together again. I love you.
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After The Lights Go Out
Performed by The Walker Brothers
Words and music by John Stewart (as John C. Stewart)
Published by Neon Pants Music (BMI)
All Rights Administered by BUG Music Inc., A BMG Chrysalis company
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Courtesy of UMG Recordings, Inc.
under license from Universal Music Canada See more »
An Addicting Mind-Bender from the Director of PRISONERS
Denis Villeneuve garnered a lot of attention for his mainstream success with PRISONERS, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, but it was it smaller, more obscure release that I wanted to see. ENEMY was released around the same time as PRISONERS but never saw a national release and I had to wait for the home video release to finally catch it. Watching it, I figured out why it never went mainstream. Most general audiences don't like something they can't understand, and ENEMY is probably best described as a mental cluster fu mess. It has a surface plot that's easy enough to understand but the film is loaded with symbolism and deeper themes. Most of which can't be discussed without entering spoiler territory so I won't touch on it much, but this is a movie that inspires discussion or at the very least will leave you contemplating it long after it ends. I know my first viewing led to two days of thought trying to decipher what I'd seen and it wasn't until I scoured the Internet, reading over the frustration of others and the myriad of proposed meanings, that I felt I'd come to an understanding. But that's me and my obsessive nature, and others can do their own research. On the surface, ENEMY is about history teacher Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal). Adam is suggested a film from a work colleague that he might enjoy and becomes obsessed when an extra in the film looks exactly like him. He tracks the actor down, Anthony (also Gyllenhaal), and discovers they're physically identical in every way. And then it gets weird.
At first impression, ENEMY is a very depressing film. It's incredibly dark with lots of shadows and harsh lighting, and the entire movie has this bizarre yellow tint to it. Everything is has an unnerving yellow sickness to it. And the characters well, no one is happy here. Adam is a depressing little man. He doesn't say much and he's very socially awkward. He's got a beautiful girlfriend named Mary (Mélanie Laurent) but there's some unknown tension between the two of them. She seems to come to his barren apartment every night and the two of them spend a minimal amount of time together before moving to the bedroom, and she always seems to leave in anger or exasperation when it's through. Anthony is more outgoing, more confident. He's married to a beautiful woman (Sarah Gadon) in a crumbling marriage racked with previous infidelities on his part. She seems hopeful that he's changed but the recent events where he hides his meeting with Adam have her wondering if he's returned to old habits. Everyone's pretty miserable but Adam finds hope for something interesting when he encounters his doppelganger. Whatever it was that piqued his interest, it fades fast as the two come face-to-face and Adam immediately regrets it. Anthony immediately moves to do what pretty much any one of us would probably do if we discovered we had an exact duplicate somewhere in the world with a beautiful girlfriend.
The surface plot is simple enough but there is so much more boiling beneath the surface of ENEMY. Honestly, I'd seen it twice and couldn't quite piece it together on my own. I only came to full understanding after doing some additional searching around the web for interpretations. I didn't have to do all the supplemental research. The movie's was perfectly fine as a piece of head-scratcher entertainment. I wanted to do it. I found ENEMY so enthralling that I wanted to know more. It's a very slow moving movie and spends most of the first half establishing the atmosphere and building the suspension but then it grabs you and you can't stop watching because you're so interested in seeing how it'll all play out. At least, I was. Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in the dual role. I was impressed with Sam Rockwell in Duncan Jones' MOON but Rockwell was essentially playing the same character interacting with itself. Gyllenhaal invests such seamless separate personalities into Adam and Anthony that they truly feel like two individual men. He's done an incredible job with ENEMY and I hope he gets some accolades for it. Mélanie Laurent isn't given much as Mary, but Sarah Gadon is undeniably sympathetic as Anthony's pregnant, hopeful wife Helen. Every involved brings their best to the table, making ENEMY one of the better hidden gems I've found in the past year's independent film selection. It's not going to be a film for everyone but anyone who enjoys a film that leaves you contemplating it after the credits roll should give ENEMY a chance.
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