¡Qué horror! 2014
Based on José Saramago’s novel O Homem Duplicado (The Double), Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy is sly and subtle horror with a distinctly Cronenbergian air to it.
Here, Jake Gyllenhall plays History professor Adam Bell, who quite suddenly discovers he’s got an exact lookalike in actor Daniel Saint Claire (real, non-screen name, Anthony).
A fascinatingly oblique take on the doppelgänger idea, Enemy is a tale that’s more concerned with how the weird sh!t scenario impacts on the characters, rather than the whys and the mystery behind said weird sh!t scenario.
If you’re looking for clear cut answers without the slightest hint of ambiguity, then look elsewhere…
As he navigates the story’s unsettling and uncertain terrain with us, Gyllenhall is ably assisted onscreen by Mélanie Laurent (as Adam’s girlfriend Mary), Sarah Gadon (as Anthony’s pregnant wife Helen), and the radiantly awesome Isabella Rossellini (as Adam’s mother).
Given her presence in the senior’s Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method and the junior’s Antiviral, Gadon’s presence only further enhances the Cronenberg echo here, while Rossellini adds just the faintest whiff of Lynch to the proceedings.
Certainly, this is horror that will not be to everyone’s taste, and that WTF ending will almost surely lose some people as well, but for my money, Enemy is a riveting narrative that is intent on exploring the inhabitants of a world with mysteries aplenty imbedded in its hidden architecture, a story that asks us to weave our own meanings out of the vague wisps and sinister tatters that are left to us as the end credits sequence begins.
Parting Shot: Nominated for 10 awards at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards (including Adapted Screenplay and Best Motion Picture), Enemy was ultimately honored with five: Achievement in Direction, Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Gadon), Achievement in Music – Original Score (Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans), Achievement in Cinematography (Nicolas Bolduc), and Achievement in Editing (Matthew Hannam).
It will be noted that Hannam is another Cronenberg connection, having also edited Antiviral.
It’s only fitting that David Cronenberg just also happened to be the recipient of a lifetime achievement award at the same Canadian Screen Awards night, where Villeneuve had this to say: "The thing that I admire the most about other filmmakers is when they are able to build their own world. And there's nobody like David Cronenberg."
(Enemy OS’ courtesy of impawards.com.)