Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a glum professor who has grown disinterested by his ordinary life. When Adam discovers a man who appears to be his double, the identical men meet and their lives become bizarrely and hauntingly intertwined. Gyllenhaal is transfixing playing both roles, journeying through a world both familiar and strange. The film’s final and unnerving image will not be soon forgotten by audiences. In the end, only one man can survive.
Director Denis Villeneuve is on a roll here. Denis worked with Jake Gyllenhaal on the hit movie ‘Prisoners‘, which starred Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, and Terrence Howard. But not a lot of people know that Denis and Gyllenhaal filmed a movie right before they started ‘Prisoners‘, which has not been released until now. That film is called ‘Enemy‘, and it completely hypnotized me for the entire 90 minutes.
Based on the 2002 novel called ‘The Double‘ by Jose Saramago, ‘Enemy‘ is a very haunting film and will leave you guessing as to what you just watched. Add to that, you won’t be able to get it out of your head as this doppelganger thriller will hook you with its unforgettable opening scene and never let you go. The tone is dark and brooding, as are the characters. Hell, even the setting, which is Toronto, Canada has a mysterious and ominous glow to it, as if monsters were to live there.
The opening scene is straight from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘, as we focus in on a bearded yet suave man (Gyllenhaal), who is sitting with several other men while women perform sexual acts on stage. One of the women brings out a covered silver platter, and when she removes the top, a big hairy tarantula crawls out, only to be squished by a woman in high heels. The entire scene didn’t seem real. We cut to Gyllenhaal again, who is now called Adam Bell, who is a nervous and quiet history professor, who seems to just go through the motions with his students, but never takes an active role in their lives. He seems to be depressed as he comes home to his almost empty apartment, grades papers, has boring sex with his girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent), and never smiles. This is his routine day in and day out.
One of his colleagues recommends a romantic comedy film for him to see, and when he watches the film, he notices that one of the actors looks very similar to himself. In fact, they look identical. This of course seems odd, so Adam writes down the actor’s name, which is Anthony St. Claire does some research and eventually finds his number and address. Adam calls Anthony to have his wife Helen (Sarah Gordon) answer the phone, thinking it’s her husband Anthony, as they have the exact same voice.
Helen then tracks down Adam and is shocked at how similar the two are, and we the audience are surprised on how much Mary and Helen look alike despite one of them being very pregnant. Eventually, Anthony and Adam meet up and find out they are indeed similar from their hair to their scars on their bodies. And when Adam visits his domineering mother (Isabella Rossellini), she lets us in on some very vague clues as what is at work here, which is something much bigger than we could have imagined.
For us as an audience, we must navigate Adam’s puzzle through his monstrous nightmares and sexual dreams. It might not make sense, but it all seems very familiar and with a complete shock ending that would make any cult director giddy, ‘Enemy‘ will not soon leave you mind. Gyllenhaal plays double duty here very well as he plays a nervous wreck of a man who may or may not be on the verge of climbing a clock tower if you know what I mean. On the other hand, he also plays a suave slime ball who can talk his way out of anything. And Denis’s camera is like an acid trip as we journey through this dark and twisted maze of identity and truth.
The score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is similar to ‘The Shining‘, with a very eerie and scary sound throughout the entire film that constantly reminds us there is no good that can come of these characters and that there is something evil lurking around every corner. ‘Enemy‘ is quite an amazing film, one that will haunt you for weeks on end.
'Enemy' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This is an odd looking film, but for good reason. Its intentions are brilliant, but with this artistic style choice, the video suffers slightly. The entire image, like the cover art, appears dipped in yellow and red-orange color throughout. There are barely any instances of any blues or green to be seen, with the exception of a couple of short sequences. The result of this puts the detail at a dis-advantage and the image never really pops of the screen. That being said, there is a good reason why the filmmakers chose to do this.
The detail is sharp and vivid in closeups, but in wider shots, the image has a softer look to it. Some of the closeups reveal excellent detail with individual hairs, scars, and makeup blemishes looking great. Skin tones always look natural and the black levels run deep. Since the image has the amber look to it, the beautiful cityscape looks like it is in the middle of a dense fog most of the time, and never showcases the beauty that it has. But again, this was intentional to keep with the nature of the story line. There were no instances of any banding or aliasing to speak of. This is a great looking picture, despite the lack of color.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and it sounds haunting, eerie, and robust. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand and well-balanced on the center channel. This track is fully immersive in its ambient noises and sound effects, as this haunting story uses its surroundings to pour out these wicked noises that will make you start to question what you just heard.
The sound effects are loud and tough when our main character starts to figure things out, and it packs a powerful punch with some good rumbling bass. The eerie score always adds to the suspense and tone of each scene and never drowns out any of the dialogue or sound effects. There were no instances of any pops, cracks, or hissing that I heard, leaving this great audio mix a solid addition to the indie horror genre.
Lucid Dreams: The Making of 'Enemy' (HD, 18 mins.) - This a great extra, but I wish it wasn't the only extra. Pretty much the entire cast and crew discuss their roles in the film and what they think the film means and what happened in the story. So if you're wondering what happened during the film, give this a look.
Trailers (HD, 6 mins.) - Trailers for other films.
'Enemy' is an excellent film that will challenge you to figure out what exactly it all means. The filmmakers did an exquisite job in keeping the tension flowing and the suspense alive. With excellent camerawork and great performances, 'Enemy' is a movie you shouldn't miss. The video and audio presentations are good, and although there is only one extra, it's a solid one. This release comes highly recommended.