Enemy ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Enemy is more enigmatic than your average thriller. I dislike writing spoiler-tagged reviews because I think a good review should be specific enough to give readers a sense of whether or not they should see it but general enough to not take away anything from the viewing experience. But in that regard I can only say a couple of things for certain: (1) the movie is apparently well made in that it has a consistent atmosphere and visual style and some good performances from its leads; and (2) it will likely be enjoyable for anyone who likes movies which ask more questions than they answer (or which aren't, strictly speaking, "about" what happens in the plot). Beyond that it gets either too subjective or too specific, so here we go into possible spoiler territory.

As the poster for the film (as well as its emphasis on atmosphere over narrative) would suggest, the movie is about a struggle in Jake Gyllenhaal's mind. It's not so much about a man who finds out he has a double as it is about a man who's struggling with two aspects of his identity and with his relationship with his wife. It is told in an incredibly unconventional and creative way which I found fascinating and which I think will improve on repeat viewings thanks to the director's attention to detail.

And watch this again I certainly will, because there were plenty of details I noticed for which I could find no immediate answers. Enemy is the kind of movie that will confuse you in the best way possible (at least for my taste). I don't think movies being confusing or enigmatic makes them good, but in this case we get the best of both worlds in terms of quality filmmaking and peaking my interest with ambiguity.

The film's use of color and lighting is the biggest example here. The majority of the film is completely washed out in yellows and browns with exceptions like motorcycle and motorcycle helmet which stand out in bright blue and red (respectively). This obviously picks out these objects as important (and in a different way than the key for example), but I couldn't exactly decide how. There are also scenes which are significantly less color-washed than others, notably at the end and in the movie he watches. My best guess is that these differences correlate to similar differences in in the film's proximity to reality versus depth within the character's mind, but I'll have to watch it again to see if that fits.

In any case, Enemy is nothing if not open for interpretation.

The film's soundtrack is also rather impressive in that it pulls an incredible amount of weight. There are long stretches of movie-time with little or no dialogue, and the emotional journey of the characters is conveyed through the music which really works wonderfully. I watched this movie with my father, and while he had few positive things to say about it (he prefers more conventional fare) he couldn't help but point out how much the movie rides on the strength of its score.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a really exciting actor for me. His performances here and in Prisoners really blew me away as not only powerful but also nuanced in a way that I don't see very often. I know he's had good roles and given good performances before, but it seems like he's only getting better and this is no exception. He manages to make his two personas feel distinct even when they take off their signature clothing (the only objective markers of their identity).

I also loved the surreal imagery with the spiders. It obviously stands out from the rest of the movie in an intelligent and purposeful way, but it also just looks really cool. Yup.

2014 Ranked

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