REVIEW: Enemy

21 06 2014

EnemyIn a discussion about the film “Enemy” a few days after seeing it, someone referred to it as “a particularly accomplished thesis film.”  To a certain extent, I do have to agree.  Denis Villeneuve’s film seems fixated on communicating mood and tone, doing so with such an intensity that it could easily be mistaken for his first time playing with it.

“Enemy” is far more successful at making you feel an overarching sense of gloom than it is at making you connect with its characters.  But that unrelenting dread in and of itself is a pretty remarkable achievement.  It’s more than just an atmospheric score recalling “Taxi Driver,” or the grays and faded yellows that dominate the color palette.  The film is the cinematic equivalent of a yoga pose held for 90 minutes straight, something to be admired for sheer poise alone.

Villenueve also manages to compliment his visual style with an equally controlled and subdued performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.  “Enemy” follows a meek history professor Adam Bell as he discovers an actor who looks exactly like him, Anthony Claire.  Both characters are played by Gyllenhaal, and they each feel distinct in demeanor as well as in the way that the events affect them.

The film is the definition of a slow burn, and Javier Gullón’s script keeps revelations rolling out at a similar pace.  Even when “Enemy” doesn’t have you completely emotionally engaged, it keeps you tense with its smoggy disposition and cryptic imagery.  Not that Villeneuve ever really loosens up in the film, but he does channel David Lynch on a few occasions.  So now that he’s accomplished this film, maybe it’s time to dabble in the surreal.  B+3stars


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