Enemy – in UK cinemas now. . .

My review of the mind-mangling picture appears over at Flickering Myth now.
It can also be read here… go see it though. Seriously good.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon and Isabella Rossellini.

Enemy still

Taking its cue from a José Saramago novel, Enemy is a film that further displays evidence of Denis Villeneuve’s extraordinary ability to tackle essential psychological and philosophical concepts in compelling and provocative fashion. Following the flawed but ambitious first English language feature Prisoners and the incredible political/fantastic mind-map of Incendies, this film should confirm the Québec born Villeneuve’s status as one of cinema’s most in-demand directors…

Telling the richly metaphoric and symbolic journey of university lecturer Adam (Gyllenhaal) as he feels the pressures of a failing relationship with Mary (Laurent) and a studious but uneventful life, in many ways Enemy shows us a look beyond the mirror. Recommended a movie rental by a work colleague, Adam is stunned to see a film bit-part actor who is his exact doppelgänger. Consumed by an obsession to find this double, Adam seeks out Anthony, a comfortably well-off bit-part actor living with his pregnant wife Helen (Gadon). From then on in, the two play out an extreme form  of attempting to justify each other’s existence…

Deliberately kept as open as possible, Enemy is a lyrical study of society’s ‘big ideas’. Opposites and doubles obviously play a big part, with order and chaos, light and dark and reality and fantasy all being intensely scrutinised in various tones and shadows. It is a impressionistic piece essentially, and to offer too much guidance on the plot would minimise the impact of the on-screen document. Suffice to say, I wholeheartedly agree with my fellow FM reviewers that this is absolutely an unmissable film.

As well as Gyllenhaal once again showing himself to be one of Hollywood’s finest actors, the film also benefits from superb performances from Gadon and Laurent as Adam and Anthony’s partners, and a haunting appearance from the legend that is Isabella Rossellini.  All of the players bring a sense of fractured identities and a theatrical sparseness to the storytelling that is intermittently blown up by another dimension of unsettling oddness.

The webs and tangles of the Kafkaesque plot brings to mind another recent identity fable, 2013’s  The Double, another film concerned with duality and opposing forces. However, whereas Richard Ayoade’s film took a darkly comedic approach to the subject, this picture is strictly of the nightmarish variety.

For UK viewers at least (it has impressed at many festivals worldwide and has already been shown in many), it is the year’s first must see movie. Go see, don’t blink.

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