Romy Shiller

Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page


In Film, review on March 26, 2014 at 8:02 am


[Spoilers, potentially]

ABOUT: Enemy is a 2013 erotic thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve adapted by Javier Gullón based on José Saramago’s 2002 novel The Double. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal in a dual role, Mélanie Laurent, Isabella Rossellini, Sarah Gadon, Stephen R. Hart, and Jane Moffat.

This film appears to be homage to certain directors and films such as Lynch [most films], Kubrick [Eyes Wide Shut], Fincher [Fight Club]. Does this make it original? Not for the genre. Been there, seen that. Look, I appreciate the effort and deviating from a standard Hollywood narrative is commendable but honestly, I kind of feel that a student filmmaker could have made this. Now student filmmakers can rock but there is a learning curve. When it boils down to great filmmakers like Lynch or Kubick we are ‘imitating,’ right?

This is not a bad film. It is specific – loyal to the genre and either you resonate with it or not.  I admire ‘difference’ in general but I found the film so-so. Many of the qualities here would be right up my alley but I found the film kind of stale.

Plot, kind-of: Based on acclaimed author José Saramago‘s 2005 novel The Double, it’s … about [a] college history professor Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal), a detached, terminally unhappy guy living in a darkly lit Toronto apartment who drifts through life by day and has passionless sex with his girlfriend (Melanie Laurent) by night. One day during lunch, an intrusive colleague recommends that he rent the (fictional) movie Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way, a “cheerful” comedy with a happy ending. Adam picks up a DVD copy, pops it into his laptop one night after grading papers, and notices something odd: the anonymous extra playing “Bellhop #3″ in one scene looks exactly like him.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays two uncannily identical residents of an unnamed Canadian city [Toronto]. They are physically identical, in any case, but temperamentally distinct in ways that begin to suggest Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name another famous literary pair. And the question that haunts the film is whether they are really different people at all, or just sides of a single disordered personality.

Do not try to make sense out of the plot. Like most films of the genre, it is like a dream. For those of you that know the artist, Dali, this film approaches his aesthetic. There are lots of symbols here, themes, and moments – yes it is surreal and fragmented. A major theme, that I noticed, is repetition. If you see the film, look out for it.

The film is dark – literally and figuratively. The film has a grainy feel. It is quite layered thematically and symbolically. A person I saw the film with could not sleep that night. Sure, it was disturbing but she was trying to figure the film out. Like I said, do not even try. There is a private sex-club scene and here I was reminded of Eyes Wide Shut. You know, masks and stuff – here the spider is a major symbol.

So this doubling of the Gyllenhaal character [Adam Bell and Anthony I Claire] brings up Fincher, maybe, it is not made clear. I tend to think that the character had a psychotic break and is dealing with his own person – but really, who knows? Let me know what you think – or not.

The film takes place in Toronto [I used to live there], which is unique. About the city the director said; The city in the book and the movie is an very important character. In thebook it was described as a megalopolis, a never-ending city, with millions of souls. I was looking for a specific landscape, an urban landscape that feels like it is spreading forever. There are not a lot of cities in the world that can offer that.

film did receive several Canadian nods. The fact that Isabella Roselini is in it is Lynchian. She was a huge hit in his film, Blue Velvet for which Lynch earned his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director. She has a small role here.

The actor and director worked on two films together. The other film is Prisoners.

“As a director, you’re a bit of a dictator. But I feel that you’re a better director if you’re open to other people’s ideas. It means that it’s tougher: you have to be in a choosing process, you have to put the ego aside,” Villeneuve told CBC News.

“As long as everybody’s aiming in the same direction…I’m open to my main partners in the film crew.”

“That’s the balance,” Gyllenhaal added, “where there’s a deep respect for the things that he wants, but sometimes he’ll really listen if my instinct is strong about something.”

A review I read in The New York Times says; Whether “Enemy” transcends its own gimmickry is an open question and may in the end be beside the point. Its style is alluring and lurid, a study in hushed tones and yellowy hues, with jolts of anxiety provided by loud, scary music (by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans). You may be left wondering about the giant spiders and the underground sex club that resembles an out-of-town tryout for an “Eyes Wide Shut” stage revue, but you also might feel cheated if loose ends were tied up too neatly. There is only so much sense a movie like this needs to make, and this one succeeds in being divertingly clever and effectively creepy.

Should you see the film? Well, if you’re a fan of Lynch or a film student, probably. I think that it might help to be familiar with the genre – it is not the usual entertainment.