In Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, Adam is a college professor (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who lives in Toronto with his beautiful girlfriend (played by Melanie Laurent). One day during lunch, a colleague gives Adam a movie recommendation. That evening, while watching the film in question, Adam is stunned to find an actor in the movie who looks exactly like him. Upon investigation, Adam discovers that the actor doesn’t live very far away and has a voice that also sounds exactly like his own. Should he meet his “double” or would approaching someone who looked like your twin only lead to trouble?
Enemy made me recall a lively conversation I had a year ago with an old friend. She asked me if I’d ever clone myself and, taking a dark but tongue-in-cheek turn, I told her I’d be thinking of murdering my clone from the moment I met him. Why? Because I don’t trust “myself,” or a copy of myself, to do the right thing. I’d be waiting for the moment my clone would turn on me and try to become the only one of us to exist. Allow me to stress this point: I was kidding when I told her this, but it does present a troubling idea. Could I be friends with someone who is identical to me in every way, but not a sibling? Say, statistically, there is someone, somewhere in the world, right now, who looks and sounds exactly LIKE YOU. Would you want to meet this person? Befriend him or her?
Enemy is about all of that and doesn’t shy away from any of those creepy questions. No, I didn’t spoil it a paragraph ago: The movie isn’t about cloning, though Gyllenhaal plays both Adam and Anthony and itʻs one of his most impressive, beautifully crafted, and intense performances. The visual effects on hand are excellent, though the real trick is that Gyllenhaal shapes two very different characters who just happen to look exactly alike.
Denis Villeneuve’s hypnotic thriller is akin to a page-turner you can’t put down. Repeat viewings are essential. I didn’t care for the yellow hue the film was shot in – whether Villeneuve wanted to establish Adam’s drab existence or thought the movie needed this kind of texturing, it makes a captivating film look dreary at times. It’s the only misstep.
Villeneuve went on to make the Hugh Jackman-led Prisoners, the drug cartel epic Sicario, the Amy Adams sci-fi drama Arrival, and the phenomenal Blade Runner 2049. He’s on a roll: This Christmas, his all-star, two-part take on Frank Herbert’s Dune arrives in theaters. Of his English language films, Enemy is a hidden gem and, if you’re a fan, every bit as essential as the rest. His themes searching for our true identity and longing for existential clarity are there.
I won’t describe the final scene, except to say I don’t know what it means, and I find it terrifying. Prepare yourself and see it with (socially distant) friends who like great post-conversations after the movie. Of course, you need to make sure these are friends you trust, who don’t look exactly like you. (On Netflix)
Rated R/91 Min.
A Pixar Sleeper: When The Good Dinosaur hit theaters five years ago, it was met with audience indifference and readily dismissed by bad press. It had been a “troubled” production, and the blend of photo-realistic settings, combined with cute, whimsical character designs, turned some off. Money-wise, it’s the only title in the Pixar catalog that flopped. What was deemed a respectable miss in 2015 has aged beautifully. After too many sequels and artistic duds, it stands as one of Pixar’s boldest films. Both gritty and hilarious, the story of a dinosaur, born a size too small and having to survive alone in an unforgiving world, emerges a newfound classic. (On Disney Plus)
For Cat Lovers: Kedi is a lovely, refreshingly sweet, and compassionate documentary on street and domestic cats adored by citizens in Istanbul. This Turkish film has a calming effect and will be cinematic cat nip for all feline lovers. After a while, it feels like the most gorgeously shot YouTube cat video, though the felines and their encounters never become interchangeable. It demonstrates how kindness towards animals is a choice, that their presence has a healthy effect and provides a reciprocated comfort and companionship. (On Kanopy)
Images courtesy IMDB