Enemy Blu-ray Review
“I look at certain characters in the movie like punctuation marks, and some people are periods and some people are exclamation points and most people in this movie are question marks.” Jake Gyllenhaal, talking about the characters in his new film, ENEMY
Sometimes when you sit down to watch a movie you want something simple, you know the type of movie where you can just turn off for two hours and bask in the story. Entertainment, I think, can be generally defined by this characteristic. But there is another type of film, equally entertaining (though much more dependent upon your mood) and actually defined by the term ‘thought-provoking’. Film is a more fickle animal than other types of art, perhaps for this very reason. It’s hard sometimes to sit back and enjoy a movie when you’re constantly trying to figure out what is happening, who is who, and what is real. When you can, though, movies can take you on an incredible (and sometimes confusing) ride.
ENEMY is this type of movie; one that defies explanation in both the best and worst ways. A doppelgänger story on the outside, there is far more to the movie than might be obvious upon first observance. The uninvolved, and generally melancholic Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a history professor at the University of Georgia. Disheveled though not quite slovenly, Adam is a morose protagonist for our film. He appears almost completely disinterested in his work, his girlfriend, his entire life… and it progresses in banality until he is directed to a local film available at his video store and discovers, in the background of a scene, his double.
Adam is deeply troubled by the discovery of his doppelgänger and becomes consumed with finding and meeting this ‘Anthony’ (also played by Gyllenhaal, obviously). But when he meets Anthony he sets something into motion that tears at the very fabric of his subconscious, bringing into question what is real and what is happening inside of his mind. Upon initial viewing, this is easily the most difficult part of the film to understand. About half way through everything is turned sideways and the plotline starts to unravel, along with Adam and Anthony’s apparent sanity.
Gyllenhaal is phenomenal as both characters, dynamic and polar opposites, who have the lion’s share of screen time in this intimate indie and really give ENEMY its backbone. How Gyllenhaal gave himself to the performance is really, really nice; he really spent the time breaking out the differences (and the similarities, which are actually scarier) between Adam and Anthony. It would also be a bad idea to ignore the performances of the beautiful and talented Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon, who plan Adam’s girlfriend and Anthony’s wife, respectively. These two women play, as Gyllenhaal does, two sides of an incredibly similar coin and the more you feel like you know about them the more questions you have about their reality.
The performances aren’t surprising given the pedigree of newcomer (to the US) filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who you should remember from the recent PRISONERS (see our review here). If Villeneuve knows how to do anything it’s get an incredible performance from his performers. But even with the performances there are moments, sometimes long ones, within ENEMY that plod and meander a bit too much. Instead of propelling us forward, I think Villeneuve may have intended that we spend some time mulling in these moments, but ultimately I feel like they hurt the final product.
I am utterly confused by ENEMY, though I’ve watched it a few times. Some really great moments punctuated by a criminally under-looked performance (performances?) from Gyllenhaal, ENEMY should be a home-run. But it just isn’t… I think primarily it’s just too weird for me, and I fear for many other moviegoers it may just be too hard to let go. And another outcome probably intended by Villeneuve, I’d love to hear what you think… this is that type of movie. You want to talk about it with everyone but you don’t know who has seen it and you can’t say too much. If all of this makes you interested, though, you absolutely need to check it out.
ENEMY BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) ENEMY is constantly given a sort of chocolate hue and the result is mesmerizing on your HDTV.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio track for ENEMY is, similarly to the film, enigmatic. The track is beautiful but the mixing results in some really difficult-to-hear dialogue.
Lucid Dreams: The Making of ENEMY (17:22) If you enjoy the mystery after the first viewing of ENEMY you should absolutely check this out between viewing one and two… by the way if you enjoy the movie there will be multiple viewings… If you REALLY love the mystery don’t watch it until after your second or third viewing. For me this feature provided an anchor I desperately needed to enhance my ENEMY experience.