Movie Review: Enemy (2013)

What did I watch: Enemy (2018) starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Is it a remake of The Parent Trap? Because re-titling it “Enemy” gives it a new plot. No.

A professor who teaches history, particularly the same lesson on fascism, is missing a distraction in his life, where he travels to work in a drab concrete ant colony/Canadian city, and has a saucy girlfriend that he has steamy sex with. A coworker suggests that the professor check out a movie because they have nothing else to talk about as coworkers I’m guessing, and so the professor who thinks society is easily distracted to allow fascism rents a movie.

About 12 or 15 minutes into the movie, the professor realizes he has a new direct source of his restlessness: he had seen himself in the movie he watched. He rewatches it, and sure enough the doorman in the film looks just like him. He then researches the actor, and starts stalking him, freaking out the actor’s pregnant wife in the process.

The actor agrees to meet the professor, and upon discovering that they have the same scar, the professor panics and runs and is too weirded out by the whole situation. The actor, however, begins his own predatory stalking of the professor’s girlfriend.

I’d discuss the plot further but by now you can guess we’d be heading into spoiler territory, and the reasons for their eerie physical similarities can only have a few explanations, even with the purposely ambiguous ending.

I will say that the cinematography creates such a bleak setting that you could almost believe you’re watching some sort of sci-fi dystopia about a sterile bland not-too-distant future where nothing is improved and we all live in a prison and we don’t know it. I used to work on a college campus of which the architecture is literally called “Neo-Brutalism” so I totally felt the mood of this city. There’s another theme that hints at how we’re trapped in a web of this conformity, the fascism with distractions the professor half-passionately lectures through semester after semester. It’s a bit of a stretch because there’s no mention of this theme by anyone, so it’s one of the odder choices of a movie that is already pretty artsy with its plot. Even with an ambiguous ending despite what I think is an obvious reveal, you still don’t know how much of this guy’s life is real. There’s only five characters through most of the film and two of them are Jake Gyllenhaal.

Is it any good? It’s okay. “Bleak setting” and “slow moving” usually doesn’t make for a watchable movie, but it does look great and the professor’s investigation creates an obsessive tense plot up until he meets the actor. From there, you can backtrack for clues on who or what is real and how the Gyllenhaals will deal with each other.

Of the other characters, the other three are women -the professor’s wife is played by Sarah Gadon, so well that I wonder if she’s aware of a mystery of a double life or of interchangeable people that come and go in our lives. Since the Gyllenhaal characters are tempted by the girlfriend, cater to the wife, and are scolded and directed by the mother, especially with the last scene, do I infer some kind of (unintended) misogyny, that women are trapping and controlling the wills and wants of the male characters?

That’s all I can say about it without spoiling it further. I didn’t feel like watching it again, and belted out this review a week or so after. The above drawing has zilch to do with the movie, I just felt like including an Inktober doodle I farted out late night last week.

 

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