DVD Review: Enemy

I was mildly curious when Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal showed up for me to review. I became more interested when I noticed it was based on the novel “The Double” written by José Saramago. I was a huge fan of the novel “Blindness”, though the movie adaptation left something to be desired. I haven’t read “The Double” so Enemy would have to be judged on its own merits, not based on its source material.

Gyllenhall plays Adam Bell, a college history professor, who is a shy, bookish fellow. One night he rents a film recommended to him by a co-worker. He noticed in the background an actor that looks exactly like him. This freaks Adam out and he becomes obsessed. Soon he tracks down the actor, Anthony Claire (also Gyllenhaal), to see how similar they really are. It turns out they’re nearly identical. From there things get really freaky. Yet for an hour and a half very little actually happens here. Enemy is a slow moving film, which in of itself isn’t a bad thing, but here many of these scenes overstay their welcome.

The one thing I found hard to understand was how freaked out everyone gets about this whole doppelganger thing. Adam freaks out, Anthony’s wife (Sarah Gordon) freaks out, the only one who doesn’t seem totally freaked out is Anthony who decides to take advantage of the situation instead. I mean sure, if you met someone who looked exactly like you in every single way, it would be pretty strange, but the way the characters in this film react just doesn’t make any sense.

The biggest problem I had with Enemy is that it tries way too hard to be an intense psychologically thriller, when the events that are happening aren’t nearly as intense as the director thinks they are. The music is very dark and ominous which is just about the only thing that raises the stakes.

The other problem I had is the way the film is shot. The film seems very distant from its characters. We never learn a whole lot about them outside their reactions to the situation they’ve been thrust. We don’t know why these characters are reacting the way they are, we just have to accept it and move on. From what I know of Saramago’s writing, I imagine that most of “The Double” must take place inside the heads of the characters and fully explains their motive, but without Saramago’s insight, the film ends up just being really confusing, and void of the depth and intensity that it thinks it has.

There is also weird thing with spiders in this movie that I guess is supposed to be symbolic of something, but I’ll be damned if I have any clue what they’re supposed to mean. Maybe the director watched one too many David Lynch films before going into production on this.

The last thing I was left confused by was the change of the title. I guess “The Double” isn’t the most exciting name for a movie, but it makes way more sense than Enemy. On top of everything else, the viewer left wondering who exactly the “enemy” was. On the other hand, maybe that was the director’s intent all along.

And if you think the ending will make sense of what is already a confusing movie, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Enemy certainly leaves you wondering what really happened, and what the mystery really was, but by the time you get to this point you really don’t care. You’re just glad the movie is over.

The film is presented in 2.40:1 widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. This film certainly has a distinct look and style and presentation here is pretty good.

You get Lucid Dreams: The Making of Enemy: (17 min.) A typical making of. It is interesting to see how they shot the scenes where Gyllenhaal was acting against himself as Adam and Anthony. As with any good making-of it makes you want to like the film more than you actually do.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Enemy. Now that I’ve seen it I’d say it’s okay at best. I guess if you’re a huge Jake Gyllenhaal fan you’ll enjoy seeing him play two roles for the price of one! But other than that gimmick, the film doesn’t really have much to offer.

Lionsgate presents Enemy. Written by Javier Gullón. Directed by: Denis Villeneuve. Based on the novel “The Double” by José Saramago. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Sarah Gadon, Mélanie Laurent and Isabella Rossellini. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: R. Released: June 24, 2014.

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