4 February 2015

Blu-ray Review - Enemy (2015)

Mystery, Thriller
Curzon Film World
BD/DVD Release Date:
9th February 2015 (UK)
Denis Villeneuve
Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini
Buy:Enemy [Blu-ray]

Enemy is the 2nd collaboration between director Denis Villeneuve and leading man Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s a surreal psychological thriller with shades of Cronenberg body horror in the film’s climax, but has the paranoid dread of some of Polanski’s ‘60s and ‘70s work. It’s taken a while to come out over here; it was released back in 2014 in the States after a short festival run in late 2013.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam Bell, a history professor in Toronto, Canada. One of Adam’s colleagues recommends the film Where There's a Will There's a Way. Adam watches the film and notices a bit part played by an actor who looks exactly like him. He tracks the actor down, someone named Daniel St. Claire but it turns out that this is actually his stage name, his real name is Anthony Claire. He starts stalking the actor and eventually contacts him, so they meet in person, but people start confusing the two (including their respective lovers) despite them both having very different personalities.

The entire film is essentially a vehicle for Jake Gyllenhaal’s performances which, considering he is arguably the finest actor of his generation, is not a bad thing. He perfectly captures the reserved paranoia of Adam but also the egotistical sexual being that Anthony is as well. Mélanie Laurent gives a fine performance as Adam’s girlfriend and recent Cronenberg collaborator Sarah Gadon has the more interesting role as Anthony’s wife Helen. Isabella Rossellini also has a cameo as Adam’s mother.

It was made back to back with the previous collaboration between Gyllenhaal and Vilaneuve, Prisoners. Both films have equally ambiguous endings and both work well. Enemy is the more mysterious and experimental of the two, and there has been an interesting theory put forward by Forrest Wickman of Slate magazine that thinks the film is about a man living in a totalitarian state without knowing that he is. The fact that Adam lectures about totalitarian states in history gives this theory some weight.

In closing, Enemy works as a fascinating paranoid thriller with one of the most surprising and mysterious climaxes in recent years. It also perfectly ends with a song by the Walker Brothers. Gyllenhaal with this, Nightcrawler and Prisoners has proven how great of an actor he is after blunders like Prince of Persia. Denis Villeneuve, after years of making French-Canadian films, has transferred to Hollywood with much ease and is someone to watch for the future.

Ian Schultz

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