"Chaos is order yet undeciphered."
Denis Villeneuve's latest film, Enemy, opens with this very interesting quote about chaos and I can't think of a better one to explain this intense and intriguing film. Enemy is a movie that requires your full attention and it is definitely not for the casual viewer. At first glance the story may seem chaotic, but Villeneuve is reminding us to pay close attention because there is an order to this surreal film if you decipher the symbolisms and meanings behind each scene. There have been many different interpretations as to what this film is trying to say, but I believe Villeneuve has made it possible for the viewers to put the clues together and understand the true meaning of his film. He has stated that it is a film about Jake's subconscious and the poster also points to that so I am not entering into spoiler territory when I make these claims. Enemy will be a divisive film because it doesn't follow a classical narrative structure and many people might find that misleading, but others will absolutely love trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and solving this intriguing thriller. I think that the most important element for the audience is what they interpret the spiders to be since they play an important role in this film. However, even if you don't understand the chaos at first (which I didn't) Villeneuve sets such an eerie and creepy atmosphere with the cinematography and score that the film can still be enjoyed. The mystery completely sucked me in and I loved all the twists. I never saw the ending coming either and it left me completely perplexed, but after thinking about the story and reading some interpretations I was fascinated by the resolution. Enemy will either make you want to go back and rewatch it immediately to pick up on the clues, or it will turn you off completely and make you want to wipe out your memory. Enemy in my opinion is a great film and Villeneuve continues to show his versatility as a director.
The screenplay was adapted by Javier Gullon from Jose Saramago's novel (The Double) although he included some clever surrealist elements like the addition of spiders which aren't part of the novel. We are introduced to Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) giving one of his lectures as a history professor. He gives a speech about totalitarian governments and how events repeat themselves over the course of time. His life is pretty dull as is his relationship with his girlfriend, Mary (Melanie Laurent), but things take an interesting turn when he watches a movie that a friend has recommended. After watching the film, he realizes that there was an actor in the background that looks exactly like him. He looks the actor up on the internet and decides to call his number. A woman answers the phone and believes it is her husband that is on the other line. Not only does Adam resemble this other actor, but they have the same voice as well. Adam tries to explain who he is, but the woman named Helen (Sarah Gadon) seems to be deeply disturbed. Her husband, Anthony (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrives and finds Helen troubled so he asks what's going on. After she explains to him the situation Anthony decides to meet with Adam in a hotel room and that is where the psychological thriller picks up and the mystery thickens.
I've been a huge fan of Villeneuve ever since I saw his Canadian film, Incendies. It still remains my favorite film of his, but he has shown an impressive range with his latest films. Prisoners sort of felt like a conventional thriller with a straightforward narrative although the cinematography and the performances made it stand out. Enemy on the other hand is very different and audiences expecting a similar thriller will be disappointed because it is more of a psychological surreal thriller resembling some of the films from David Lynch. Enemy succeeds in most part thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal's brilliant performance as he plays two distinct characters giving each one different depth. It also benefits from an ending that some have called the scariest they've seen on film. I wouldn't go that far, but I thought it was shocking and unique. Villeneuve has really messed with his audience, but he did it in a positive way because it makes you want to go back and watch what you missed (unless you hated it and thought it was silly which is also a possibility with films like this). The tone of the film completely captured me and I was engaged once I got past those disturbing opening minutes. The entire film has a lot to do with the lecture Adam gives and whether you liked this film or not it does have order once you decipher all the chaos. Enemy is a clever film that will stick with you and it is so unique that it's hard to compare it to other films.