Sunday, July 6, 2014

Enemy

Director: Denis Villeneuve
With: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini

My thoughts on doppelgangers have changed ever since I became a fan of How I Met Your Mother where it turned out to be one of the series' running joke and eventually a vital storyline. Doppelgangers, which I thought was double gangers when I first heard it lol, are actually portrayed as harbinger for bad luck. Thanks to HIMYM, its context became a little lighter but after watching Enemy, I'm afraid that it returned to its bad name.

French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is quickly becoming a favorite. After directing two films (Incendies, Prisoners) that made him popular in my book :3 and internationally as well, here's another film that's insanely compelling, mysterious and thought provoking.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a university professor named Adam Bell who discovered that he has a double, thoroughly identical in physical appearance, only with a completely different life and personality - and just when you think you've figured this out by saying "Ohh it's a psychological thing, etc", I'm pretty sure that you're mistaken. Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent in the dual role, bringing each man their own distinctiveness and personality. The challenge for Gyllenhaal here is to make the viewers tell the two different men apart and he did it successfully only with his use of facial expressions and body language.

I'm having flashbacks of my writeup for Prisoners because I'm bound to use similar statements again to describe Enemy but it's just really becoming a recurring thing for Villeneuve's films, the mystery. Like what he did to Prisoners, Villeneuve is more focused on the story rather than the lesson. He sure knows how to grip his audience by providing answers but ironically, those answers also keep on providing questions. He never leaves his viewers hanging but at the same time, he prolongs the mystery by providing many angles. He sure knows how to grip, he most definitely knows how to play with the viewers' psyche as well.

In Enemy, Villeneuve is never misleading but he sufficiently piques the curiosity of the viewer to create their own hypothesis and thus, his viewers create their own misleadings. It's an enigma in a way that the clues are handed both subtly and visibly but in the end, the craziness may or may not make sense depending on one's understanding and to an extent, attentiveness. I don't want to ruin one's viewing so let's just leave it at these warnings.

There are so many things to commend about this film, Villeneuve's stylish direction of illuminating Toronto's cityscape enhanced with yellow & black colors - to make it more sickly as if the story is not sick enough. Other than that, the thing to rave about in this film is its ENDING. I literally voiced out the words "WHAT.THE.FUCK" with matching jaw drop and surprised big eyes because of it. It's reminiscent of the nightmare in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive and thinking about it, Enemy actually has a lot of similarities with Mulholland Drive except I think I've figured Enemy much easier while I'm still stuck in the conundrum of the latter.

The ending makes you want to research for answers and a second viewing might be required but it won't have the same intriguing effect of the first. Still, it might provide clearer answers if you want a closure from this film. Because that ending is truly startling that it needs some visual and mind purging.

Enemy also stars three other stunning actresses - Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon as the partners of the doubles, and Isabella Rossellini as Adam's mother. They helped on emphasizing Jake Gyllenhaal's character's flaws and their actions and words are also not devoid of clues. Not to mention, they have some sexy scenes that probably made this film labeled as homoerotic.

I can't wait to discuss this film with more people. It might not be for everyone but if you're into riddles, then this is a puzzle for you and I may suggest, start with the poster. Good luck!