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The story begins with Gyllenhaal's character entering a dungeon-like private club where men watch women perform solo sexual acts. He's distracted by a tarantula crawling from a silver plate placed on that mirrored stage, but the film actually revolves around an unexpected discovery that introverted Adam Bell has a twin. Gyllenhaal plays Adam. A background hotel bell hop in a locally-produced movie, Where There's A Will There's A Way, looks exactly like Adam before he grew the beard. However, Adam's not an actor, his forte is history. Bitter irony, that. He doesn't have siblings, let alone an identical brother. A web search sends Adam snooping and stalking for answers about this apparent doppelganger named Anthony Clair. Gyllenhaal also plays Anthony. Adam makes contact and Anthony agrees to meet face-to-face, confirming they have the same face. The same beard. Same scar. They could be the same guy, and yet they're so different. At that stage, Anthony's wife Helen is very six months pregnant. Here, Adam's dreamy girlfriend Mary haunts his sparse apartment of stored regrets from a previous life. Towering overhead, the tarantula drags her distorted body over Adam's gutted world, and Anthony turns to lecherous revenge for disrupting his life.
Granted, I'm not a fan of movies starring Jake Gyllenhaal. He's always seemed like that fresh-faced, off-beat talent nobody in Hollywood knew how to cast properly. Until Hollywood North figured it out. Gyllenhaal is astounding in this Canadian production, in a leading role tailor-made for him. He pulls in powerfully underplayed performances that effortlessly lure you further into the strange and tragic mind's eye of Adam Bell. So much of this flick seems to unravel within Adam's selective fantasies, guilty memories and toxic imagination that it's arguably conceivable only a couple of scenes actually take place outside his head. No disrespect to Saramago, but this is Walter Mitty meets Chuck Palahniuk. The trite phrase, "He's a different person now," rings true here. Villeneuve's guidance and Gullón's vision carefully craft each perfect puzzle piece scene, but it's Gyllenhaal's uncanny ability to isolate and amplify subtleties here that holds this seemingly unfilmable story together. Nicolas Bolduc's cinematography in Enemy is nothing short of super human, and Matthew Hannam's work editing this delightfully complex nightmare must have been sheer hell to accomplish. The resulting efforts of this entire cast and crew are phenomenal.
Enemy isn't for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but this is a demanding and weird adult thriller with an offensive tendency against women, that takes its sweet time in making any sense. However, if you're up for the challenge and looking for something totally different from the usual popcorn escapism at the movies, Enemy is well worth checking out - at least once. It's easily one of the best Canadian films of 2013 that's finally made it to wide release this year. Reviewed 03/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
Enemy is rated 14A by the Ontario
Film Review Board, citing suspenseful situations with short scenes
or glimpses of scary characters or images usually in comedic,
fantasy or historic setting, coarse language, sexual references,
nudity in a non-sexual context, partial or full nudity in a brief
sexual situation, embracing and kissing, sexual innuendo, implied
sexual activity, tobacco use, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic
violence, and is rated 13+ by la Régie du Cinéma
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