I rarely review movies, unless something interesting comes along and then disappears quickly, without fanfare.
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“Enemy” is one of those forgotten treats. It came out a few months ago, and now, it’s already on ITunes. I suggest you watch it. Don’t blame me if you hate it. Well, okay – blame me.
For most reviewers, it came off as a bombastic, amateurish, murky tale about a man finding his exact replica in a rented film. It’s been described as self-consciously deep – a beginner’s attempt at appearing sophisticated by shrouding plot with ambiguity, darkness and shocking imagery. It’s by the same guy who did the film “Prisoners,” a long, bloody mess I found overlong and tedious.
“Enemy” is different. It’s a stunning but short movie that moves slow, offering clues here and there about what it’s up to – but delivering a punch that is only really felt until the very last scene. I love movies with unexpected endings – that upon review, make total sense.
My favorite ending of any film will always be from Sam Raimi’s greatest film, the original Evil Dead 2, starring Bruce Campbell. As an intern for the publicity firm involved in the films original release, I saw the flick with a bunch of unsuspecting vendors and reviewers. The movie blew everyone away, and the ending left people laughing and cheering. It remains the most satisfying climax – so much so, I’ve seen that movie maybe 50 times. If you never saw Evil Dead 2 (the 1987 version), try to – and see it in a theater. Raimi was so far ahead of his time – he made everyone else look outdated.
The “Enemy” plot: a sad chump of a teacher decides to rent a movie, based on the recommendation of a coworker. When he watches it, he notices that an extra looks a lot like him. He decides to track the extra down. His double, it turns out, is a cooler version of himself. Better dressed, a nicer apartment, and he has a motorcycle. The teacher drives a shitty car and dresses like a teacher. To the teacher, it’s both intriguing and demeaning.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays both roles – and he’s magnificent – adjusting posture and expression only slightly to differentiate both characters. The “journey” of discovery is obvious in some ways, but also terrifying in surprising ways – thanks in part to a spider.
I don’t want to offer much more about the movie for you – because it deprives you of the only truly authentic scare from any recent film I’ve seen. My wife jumped out of her skin.
So did I, and I had already seen the movie before she had.
If you have seen the movie, i’m interested in your take. The message to me is about how men view women when they are married, vs. as an untethered, single drifter. The married man seeks escape, the single man seeks comfort. Each man wishes for a switch, if it were possible – and somehow these physically identical characters (Adam/Anthony) figure that out. Take a look.
Also: it makes Ontario look like a shithole. Seriously, i’ve never wanted to visit a place less, than after seeing this movie. Ontario cannot be this bad, can it?