Friday, April 25, 2014

Enemy (2013) Review and Interpretation

Copyright: E1 Films
For me, Enemy has two major advantages for a movie that isn’t meant to be labeled. It is completely uninterested in helping the audience understand its story verbally, while it at the same time it presents a very clear emotional overtone. Denis Villeneuve made the very good Prisoners last year, and in his new creation, he once again uses the talented Jake Gyllenhaal. He plays Adam, a college professor who accidentally finds his identical double in the form of a small time actor by the name of Anthony. 

This film is based on a work by Jose Saramago, but isn’t one more of those stories about doppelgangers. Recently Jesse Eisenberg, an actor who is slowly becoming the new version of Jeff Goldblum in his post-Fly career, made a film called The Double which seems similar to Enemy. Villeneuve decided to focus on feelings, mainly those that seem to slowly suffocate the characters. As the film progresses, so does the feeling that something very dark will happen. The damped lights and the excellent photography use the Toronto landscape to underline this, putting the film in a universe of its own.

It this space, characters seem like they have jobs and relationships, but in reality they are just waiting for something and it will probably be unpleasant. In these dark hallways and dimmed rooms were the drawn curtains block the sunlight, Adam looks for a resolution, but only finds pieces of himself that terrify him, although without a clear reason. Gyllenhaal has now enough experience to present a character like Adam mostly thought sighs and barely noticeable changes in facial expressions.

As the story moves forward, it grows one additional line that follows Anthony, and this may cause problems for some viewers. The openness employed by Villeneuve is refreshingly uninterested in the wants and needs of the audience concerning the clarity of the plot and the ideas it tries to converse. Instead, he made a pulsating work of art that touches on a very deep rooted anxiety which is linked to a person’s need from an intimate relationship. But, this is just my interpretation of Enemy, and I will present my explanation. In any case, this is a brilliant film.

Interpretation of the Enemy ending scene

(Obviously, Defcon 1 Spoiler Alert)

This is how I understood the movie Enemy. The following is my interpretation of the film and its cryptic ending scene, so I will try to explain the way I understood the entire plot leading to it.

Adam is a guy who struggles with a steady relationship. His girlfriend isn’t living with him, and he isn’t very bothered when she leaves abruptly in one moment. He can’t commit. On the other hand, Anthony did commit, but is unfaithful, which is shown when his wife Helen asks him “if he is seeing her again”. More than that, Anthony is into darker stuff, and he is the person shown at the very beginning, watching the underground show. Later on, he practices acting hurt when he wants to have sex with Adam’s girlfriend Mary, and has no real feelings about his wife, which is also shown when he demands blueberries for himself.

Anthony focuses on Mary’s feet in high heels while he stalks her in the bus, which further connects his troubling desires with the underground club, where “models perform” on glass mirrors. When Anthony and Mary die, Adam has the opportunity to resolve his fear of commitment, already having a woman that genuinely wants to be with him, although she knows he isn’t Anthony (how was at school question), but a better person, which Adam demonstrates by repeatedly asking her if she wants anything before going to bed.

After that, she confronts his anxiety with understanding, and they presumably have sex, which I understood as a kind of an improvised wedding. Now, Adam and Helen are together. But, Adam finds the key for the underground club, which he knows nothing about, because he never visited it. But, he remembers the conversation he had with the building’s guard, who did spend time in the club with Anthony. He makes the connection, and instead of getting rid of the last pieces of Anthony, he saves it, most likely to explore it later on.

At the same moment, Helen turns into a tarantula, the object of his fears, because one again (symbolically) he won’t be able to stay faithful, and will seek excitement elsewhere. Through this process, he will gradually become Anthony once again, and even maybe enjoy seeing tarantulas being crushed like his predecessor did. The commitment is the spider, a terrifying thing, but also something that Adam/Anthony need and want.