Enemy (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Enemy</strong> (2013)

(On Cable TV, December 2014) In some ways, it’s fitting that Enemy should be the last film I’ve seen in 2014, given how my reaction to it is in many ways a reflection of where I am in my cinephile’s journey.  Because Enemy is one of those movies where an enigmatic plot ends up being a metaphor for a deeper meaning that may not be fully apparent from a superficial viewing.  Here, a mild-mannered college professor discovers that he has a doppelganger, an extrovert actor.  When the two men meet, issues of fatherhood, relationships and intimacy all come up, in an enigmatic mixture of mystery, fantasy and allegory.  Anyone watching the film for plot will be frustrated, especially if they expect stated answers by the end of the film.  There is a lot to decode in the film, starting with the issue of whether there is a doppelganger and whose doppelganger it is.  Now, as it happens, I’m at that stage in my movie-watching life when I can recognize the deeper levels of interpretation –but can’t be bothered to care.  Purposefully-enigmatic films that revel in ambiguity (all the way to the director remaining coy about what it all meant in press interviews) are more annoying than anything else, and my ultimate reaction is to opt out: I refuse to put the puzzle together.  So what’s left in Enemy for us refusniks?  Fortunately, a well-crafted film.  French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve does really well in this second (chronologically first) collaboration with Jake Gyllenhall, leading a carefully designed film bathed in the kind of gold light that makes Toronto looks either cool or creepy.  Gyllenhall himself gets a plum pair of roles as a split personality playing off himself.  The film may be quiet, but the second-to-last shot is a pure shocker, fit to send even forewarned viewers climbing the drapes while shouting HOLYCATS, WHATWASTHAT?!?!!  Too bad that the film wants to be so maddeningly mysterious.  It asks a lot of its audience, so it shouldn’t be surprised if many won’t play along.

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