There Are Two Sides To Every Story

Enemy (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
3½ Out Of 5 Stars

GET TO THE POINT BEN!

If the spiders weren’t a little TOO mysterious, it would’ve rated much higher.

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Darkness, gloom, vast, obscurity, eerie, mysterious, uncanny, frightening, more fear, … down right spooky! 

Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a college professor instructing his students about the totalitarian state of society and how it’s human nature to create such regimes.  So are you going to break free and find your individualism, or get caught in the web? 

Based on José Saramago’s novel “The Double”, Enemy deals with our society in the aforementioned idealisms of freedom and relates that in the literal with Anthony, a replica of Adam.  This drives Adam on a dark actuality that tests his beliefs and the parties that become involved (Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon).  It’s a very gloomy experience, of uncanny events where the mood is very vast and obscure, yet EXTREMELY eerie and even a little frightening as Adam deals with his dual and possible doppelganger. 

Now, let’s go back and emphasize “vast” and “obscure”.  We can even throw in “vague”, and definitely “AMBIGUOUS”!  Let’s underline and highly exalt the latter.  Not mentioned in the novel, but as a filmmaker’s take on the material to make it his own, French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve decided to take the visual of “caught in the web of society” to a new perception.  So the visual metaphor of a spider is referenced all throughout the eerie experience of Enemy.  The spider is the symbol of the idealisms that the film discusses, yet it’s also another “artsy” ploy of ambiguity in my opinion, “Is this reality?  Or is this all a dream?  Who cares, the point is I got you talking about it.”  This is what really grinds my gears in storytelling!  It’s the ending of Inception intertwined and mingled all throughout the entire story now.  Every time the spider shows up. 

You know those funny fan made editing clips on Youtube, you know the ones where they take something like The Shining or Nightmare On Elm Street and re-edit it to look like My Best Friend’s Wedding?  Basically when they take one genre and make it look like a completely opposite one.  That’s what could’ve EASILY been done here.  I kept thinking, “why is everything SO SERIOUS?”  The girlfriends involved, the two leads, everyone, could’ve just as easily had a persona of “Oh my gosh, you guys could be long lost brothers or something, that’s so cool!  Where are you from?  Awesome!  This is my wife so and so, we live here, and like to do such and such on the weekends …” But instead, Anthony’s wife is about to have a nervous breakdown and just drop to the floor when she sees Adam, a man who looks just like her husband, on the park bench and it’s the most serious, most life disrupting event … EVER! There are two sides to every story, just like this film is trying to say, so say that!

I get it, this dark take is a strong possibility, but so is the light-hearted take, just as much if not more than, probably why I feel so strongly about it.  A scene or even a line of dialogue to at least acknowledge this light-hearted take would’ve been nice. 

One thing’s for sure; Gyllenhaal BRILLIANTLY performed the leads!  Especially the shy, unsure schoolteacher Adam, as opposed to his counterpart Anthony, the outgoing, confident, bad boy actor trying to make it in Hollywood. 

All in all, if it weren’t for the ambiguous ending that I understand now, but still feel it could’ve been just a little more catered to the common-folk and not “primarily for the artsy crowd yet the general public can take away something from it as well”, I would’ve rated this film a little higher.  I truly was absorbed and thoroughly entertained throughout the duration of this story.  Then the ending happened, that I went back and learned was about, which gave me a slight dislike to the journey that I just went through that I liked.  I didn’t like it as much anymore after that.  Add that to wanting a reference to the light-hearted take that someone going through this experience could also have just as much in addition to this dark and eerie take. 

I won’t say see it or not, I’ll just leave it at get around to this if its web catches you to do so.   

Enemy
Thriller, 90 Minutes, R
Based on the Novel “The Double” by: José Saramago
Screenplay by: Javier Gullón
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, & Isabella Rossellini

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