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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Movie Review - Enemy

Enemy (2014)
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

It's difficult to judge a movie that you liked all the way through only to have the final shot throw everything on its head and disappoint you, leaving you feeling lost, confused, and frustrated.  So is the case with Enemy which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as an intelligent, though seemingly troubled (or perhaps just bored), college history professor named Adam Bell who, while watching a movie one day, sees a man who looks like his twin.  Intent on finding this lookalike, Adam tracks down Anthony Claire and the two find themselves thoroughly confused by their identical looks.  The twists that happen next are best left unsaid, but the tone in which the story plays out is decidedly creepy and a little unnerving.

And that's certainly not a bad thing as director Denis Villeneuve (who brought us last year's Prisoners which also starred Gyllenhaal) certainly succeeds at keeping things a little unsettled as the film progressed.  Unfortunately, the film has an ending that the vast array of the "normal" moviegoing public will find disappointing.  Rather than give us a logical, sensical ending, the last shot throws everything into a confusing loop.  In certain films, that's okay.  We buy in from the beginning that we're going to be watching something to which we have to pay really close attention, but Enemy didn't present itself that way to me.  I was thoroughly interested in the story all the way through, but I didn't find it overly confusing or convoluted.  I thought I was watching a straightforward film that would presumably have an ending that explained itself.  Instead, the final scene left me befuddled to the point that I had to go online to see what others came up with to explain its nonsensical nature.

Admittedly, upon looking up these "answers" from the online community, I appreciated the different ideas they came up with to "solve" the movie.  However, because I didn't realize I was watching something that was going to throw me for this loop at the end, I felt a little let down.  Had I known that I had to really pay attention and really think about possible twists or "solutions" to the strange notion of doubles/twins/look-a-likes that the film sets up, I may have found the ending a bit more palatable.  Don't get me wrong -- I often like movies that throw a twist in at the end and make you question what came before.  However, oftentimes, the director keys you in on the notion that things aren't quite what they seem as the film progresses.  For some reason, I didn't get that from Villeneuve here -- although, in retrospect, I probably should have considering some of the weird quirks he brings to the table.

Still -- and here's the odd thing -- I really liked Enemy.  Jake Gyllenhaal as an actor has really come alive this year and Enemy is perhaps a better role than his already fantastic performance in Nightcrawler.  Here, Gyllenhaal needs to play two roles with differences that at first seem rather large, but grow much smaller as the film progresses.  Two seemingly polar opposite characters gradually find their characteristics and mannerisms morphing into one as Adam and Anthony get to know each one another, however Gyllenhaal is always able to easily allow the audience to delineate which character we're seeing onscreen -- and that's a huge feat as the story progresses and the two characters' lives begin to intertwine.

In the end, the odd thing about Enemy is that I want to watch it again.  Although disappointed by the conclusion and let down by the notion that this mystery required more "involvement" from the viewer than I was aware I needed to give it, I liked it quite a bit.  So, if you decide to watch it, my suggestion is to "think" while you view.  Be aware that what you're watching isn't as "straightforward" as you think and that the ending will require you to ponder everything that came before it.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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