Every year there ends up being multiple movies that have a similar if not identical theme. One of two movies to play the Toronto International Film Festival last year about a man and his doppelganger, “Enemy” works as a subtle little mindbender where we’re never quite sure which way is up.
University lecturer Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is nearing the end of a relationship with his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent). One night, while watching a film, Adam spots a minor actor who looks just like him. Consumed by the desire to meet his double, Adam tracks down Anthony (Jake Gyllenhaal), an actor living with his pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon) and engages him in a complex and dangerous struggle.
This cinematic adaptation of the novel “The Double” by Jose Saramago from Canadian auteur Denis Villeneuve is a visually stunning and gripping little mindbender that would make even the most devout David Lynch fan squeal in glee.
Shot in and around the city of Toronto, Villeneuve crafts a cynical and somewhat dark world that could have been any faceless metropolis and draws us in with the simplicity of some excellent execution and subtle little tricks that have us questioning who is actually who as both these men lead their lives.
The script from Javier Gullon has a certain subtle magic to it, as nothing unfolds in a blunt fashion to keep the audience on board, but instead it drops some subtle hints as to the ride that we are being taken on and rewards the kind of viewer that likes drinking in every single detail of a film. The stellar cinematography from Nicolas Bolduc along with an underrated musical score by Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans are so key into putting us into the head space of these characters. It’s the kind of subtle direction that almost feels like it isn’t even there, as it manages the balance in this unique universe and it just might be one of the more accessible but also brilliant pieces of work in what has already been a stellar directorial career from Denis Villeneuve.
In what is possibly one of the most challenging roles of his entire career, Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the dual role of Adam and Anthony with a surprising amount of skill and aplomb. Very much a story about the duality of man, and Gyllenhaal truly captures that struggle in allowing the subtle and alluring nature of the story come to the forefront in an incredibly well thought out performance. Melanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon are certainly fine playing the love interest on either side of Gyllenhaal but it bears watching as he plays both roles with such a delicate nuance that it is easy to forget which man is which and even by the shocking end of the film, even we aren’t quite sure what was actually going on.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are first rate and the special features include 4 behind the scenes featurettes.
Even though it has a very deliberate and unique pace to it all, “Enemy” is an incredibly rewarding cinematic experience that will shock, delight and make audiences want to watch this one all over again as firmly entrenches Denis Villeneuve as a directorial force on the global stage.
4 out of 5 stars.
“Enemy” is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, On Demand and Digital Download from all major retailers and providers.