Intricately woven celluloid tapestry as it is, Enemy is particularly tricky to write about, as it seems that every tiniest detail may have a substantial meaning to it and seeing the film once may not be enough to discover the stitch pattern, all the nuances and subtleties.
Denis Villeneuve’s strategy is double-edged, as his latest film proves to be excellent material for an analysis that should be included in every film studies textbook, but its appeal is limited. Enemy is a mercilessly drawn-out narrative video-clip, intellectually stimulating and striking, but ultimately irksome because of its stand-offish form.
The Canadian director bends over backwards to leave a brand of eccentricity, resorting to shaky camerawork, sudden colour changes and experimenting with sharpness.
Enemy is derived from José Saramago’s novel The Double.
History professor Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees his doppelgänger on a film he rented and begins the search for his dead-ringer. Its fruitful finale marks the beginning of the proper plot, as together with Adam, the viewer is invited to solve the mystery behind Anthony’s identity.
But it soon gives place to another puzzle, being a key to understanding the film. The infamous last scene, applauded by festival audiences as the scariest moment of the year, explains who the titular enemy is, provoking you to see the film one more time and bend your brain again, this time having the appropriate tools to decipher all the signs.
Judging by the reaction of the press, Denis Villeneuve’s experiment can be hailed as a success. However, we question whether it’s worth making the effort to play a game that can be only properly be joined after seeing the film.