One Liner Review:
A very artisitc and unique movie, this one takes some time to get going, but it definitely becomes more and more interesting as it goes on.
A wild ride of a movie, this one is very quiet and independent feeling throughout its duration, but boy does it pick up steam as more begins to make sense. The movie tells the story of a loner, named Adam, who comes across a discovery that changes his life. He discovers that there is someone out there who looks and talks exactly like him. Adam is a professor of history, and he now goes on the search to find out more. Once he does, the surprises, clues, and twists continue to pile up. This is a thinkers movie, and it’s one that you need to invest in. That includes watching it more than once, reading different theories about, and things like that. It’s worth it. Following the clues and deciphering what they mean is quite a rush.
Enemy is a cool and unique movie. It’s one of those mind-benders that you don’t really figure out until after you’re done watching it. This is the kind of movie that is very open to interpretation to the point where it becomes fun to read about it and the different theories that are out there, after finishing the film. And it definitely seems like the kind of movie to watch more than once, where the viewer gets so much more out of a second viewing, now seeing the movie in a different way. There’s poetry and symbolism all around here, and it’s the dark story that makes it more than just nice and interesting. It’s actually kind of scary too.
The movie stars Jake Gylenhaal, working once again with his Prisoners director Dennis Villeneuve. This is a top notch filmmaker who is still very new to the game. He reminds me of Christopher Nolan, when he was first starting out, in the early 2000s, making movies like Memento and Insomnia. Both directors make smart, deep, and twisty films. Both of them are not afraid to take risks and manage their time at their own pace, often going for artistic instead of loud and exciting. Aside from Villeneuve, it is also worth noting that Enemy was made by Studio A24, a newer studio that has produced a bunch of creative independent films over the past two years. These movies include Locke, Spring Breakers, The Spectacualr Now, The Rover, and Under The Skin. Some of them work, and others don’t. Personally, I loved Locke and The Spectacular Now, but I couldn’t stand Spring Breakers or The Rover. So it’s two and two, but now with Enemy I am glad to say the balance is tipped in favor of success.
Enemy is a very quiet movie. Especially in the first half. The music, if you can call it that, is pretty genius. It’s one note held for a long time, before it switches to another note, that is also held for a long time. These notes are eerie, and create an uncomfortable tone. They feel straight out of a Hitchcock movie. And the music is just the start. The look of the movie is also pretty out there. It often uses the same kinds of yellow-orange filters that are featured in David Fincher films. Gylenhaal worked with Fincher before, on Zodiac. This movie is going for the same kind of dark, but mystrious vibe. It accomplishes its goal.
The movie opens with a strip club scene where a woman releases a spider from a container just to squash it on stage. Then we meet Adam, (Gylenhaal) a man who lives a life of solitude, despite having a girlfriend who comes and goes when she pleases. Adam is quiet. He doesn’t do much, other than sleep with his girlfriend and go to work, where Adam is a history professor. He gives the same lecture over and over again to different classes, about life in dictatorships and how the oppressed people don’t realize that they are being oppressed because the dictators distract them with other things, such as the bread and circuses. We do meet Adam’s girlfriend, Mary, but the two of them exchange a minimal amount of words with each other, and clearly Adam is living a life of loneliness.
At school, a coleague asks Adam is he goes to or watches movies. Adam says no, and the coleague recommends a film for Adam to rent. So he does, and he gets through the movie, watching it on his laptop without a problem. But then something occurs to him in his dream. It’s an image from the movie with him in it, playing a bellhop in the background. Adam wakes up and rushes over to his laptop to put the movie back on. He gets to the scene in question and sees that it really is an actor who looks exactly like him.
Adam is now on a quest to find out more. He checks the credits for the three bellhops, and google searches the names and images of all three actors. Adam figures out which one is the guy who looks like him and goes to the actor’s agency. Once there, Adam is mistaken for the actor, named Anthony. He gets Anthony’s address and phone number and attempts to make contact with him. First, Adam calls the apartment and speaks to Anthony’s pregnant wife, Helen. He doesn’t leave a name, but there’s something mysterious going on. Helen thinks it is her husband on the phone.
Adam tries again, a little bit later on, and this time he reaches Anthony. He tells Anthony the situation and they agree to meet. Anthony, now, google searches Adam. There are no images that pop up, but he does find the name and learn that Adam is a professor at the local university. Helen is suspicious from hearing Anthony talking to Adam on the phone. She thinks maybe it is a jealous husband of a woman who Anthony is having an affair with. Helen checks Adam’s computer to see the name of who he was searching, and then she goes to check out Adam for herself. She sits down on a park bench beside him, and he looks right at her without knowing her at all. Something is clearly going on here. Either Anthony and Adam really are two different people, or this is a major case of Multiple Personality Disorder.
The movie is about halfway over at this point. It has taken that long for Adam to finally contact Anthony, get in touch with him, and put the meeting plan into place. The two of them both show up to the meeting, in a hotel room. Adam gets freaked out an leaves when he learns that the two of them have a scar in the exact same place on their chests. The mystery stage is definitely set, but where does the movie go from here?
It comes up with a new angle to drive the plot. Anthony thinks that Adam slept with his wife. He is convinced of it and confronts Adam saying that he will now do the same thing to Adam’s girlfriend. Anthony plans to take her away for a romantic wekend. Meanwhile, there are clues going all around that maybe they are actually the same person. Adam goes to visit his mother, who insists he never had a twin brother, but asks when he is going to give up the acting job. Now, Adam isn’t the one who is an actor, so this comment seems very strange. And then we watch Adam go over to Anthony’s apartment afterwards and the bizarre clues, ideas, and revelations in this movie contine.
Once there, Adam gets it on with Helen, knowing ful well that Anthony is doing the same thing with his girlfriend right as they speak. And here comes our next big clue… Helen says to him, “how was school today?” Anthony doesn’t go to school. Adam is posing as Anthony in this scene, and Helen’s words imply that she knows who she is really with. Either that or they are one and the same. There’s a lot more to the movie than this, including some wild spider imagery and what it all means. The movie does feel kind of slow for a while, but it really picks up in both energy and momentum in the second half. Figuring out the twist and all of the clues is a bit of a project, but it is well worth the reward.
While I can’t be sure of what the ideas in this movie really mean, I have read multiple interpretations and have a few of my own. First off, the characters are one and the same. Anthony is Adam and vice versa. The scar is a major clue about that. If they both have the same scar then it’s too big of a coincidence. Were they both in the same accident and injured in the same place? This is something that would have to happen after birth, so the twin brothers theory goes right out the window.
Another big clue comes later on in the movie when Adam goes to visit his mother and she tells him to stop thinking about the low paying acting jobs. Adam has just confronted his mother about the idea of him having a twin brother and she says there is no way. And yet she is saying these acting things to him, as if he were Anthony. Adam isn’t the actor. He’s the teacher. But it doesn’t matter because the truth is they are one and the same.
I believe that Anthony is a failed actor who got his wife pregnant six months ago, and was forced to give up acting and become a professor. Only his wife thinks he’s still acting. He is leading two lives now. As a professor, he imagines that he is still single. His girlfriend, Mary, is made up. Notice how little they say to each other. Notice how she often says things that he is probably thinking, like, “I think I’m drunk.”
So Adam works as a professor, and has forgotten that he used to be an actor. When he goes to the talent agency, posing as Anthony, the guard there says that he hasn’t seen him for six months. Exactly the amount of time that his wife, Helen, has been pregnant. So when she got pregnant, Adam gave up acting and became a professor, and stopped going to the agency.
The idea that his wife does not know he is working as a professor is made clear by the scene where she goes to see him at work. He has multiple personality disorder and is in the mind of Adam at the time, so when his wife sits down on a park bench beside him, he does not recognize her. She is deeply saddened by this and realizes what is going on with her husband.
There are clues in this movie about blueberries, and those are something I still need to look into. My understanding is that one of them (Anthony) loves blueberries, and that Adam does not. These come up a lot and are meant to help guide us through what might really be going on.
So now for the accident at the end. Is it all fake? Some theorists believe that the accident is a sort of flashback to a woman who Anthony was having an affair with and killed. The movie does tell us that Anthony used to have an affair with a woman and that Helen knows about it. She even accuses him of being on the phone with the woman or with the woman’s jealous husband, when Anthony first speaks with Adam on the phone. And if the accident really is a flashback, then maybe it explains the scar Anthony has on his chest.
There’s also the bit about the photograph. When Adam first discovers that there is an actor named Anthony out there who looks just like him, he finds a photograph in his apartment, that is ripped in two. The half that remains shows Adam. The half that is missing must have had another person in it. The way Adam holds the photograph up to a computer image of Anthony, with Anthony filling in the void left by the missing person, it’s meant to look like maybe it was him in the photo. Later on we see another copy of the photo in Anthony’s apartment and see that it is Helen who was the other person. This makes sense, because Adam, the single guy, has repressed the memory of his wife and the fact that he is married.
Finally, the spiders. Now, here’s the thing. Considering how deep this movie already is, the spiders didn’t really need to be in there and were kind of unnecessary. Except for one important reason… that last image of the giant spider in place of where his wife was is so powerful and so scary that it gets us to want to know more. And wanting to know more is what leads us to finding and figuring out all of this, about how the whole movie worked. The end spider is a freaky image, mostly because we have no idea what it means.
What it means is that Anthony considers women to be like spiders. That’s what he sees them as. In the strip club opening scene, a woman lets a spider loose before she potentially crushes it with her heal. There is an image of a giant spider walking over the city skyline right around the time Anthony speaks to his mother on the phone. And there’s a dream Anthony has of a woman walking down the hallway, upside down, with the head of a spider. When the car accident occurs, towards the end of the movie, we zoom into the glass and stay on a crack in the windshield that looks like a spider web. The idea here might be that when Mary died in the car crash it was also killing off the part of Anthony that thought women were like spiders. Only at the end of the movie, Helen turning into a spider shows that this part is back.
And Helen knows it. There’s a very important line that happens at the end when she is in bed with Anthony. At the time, we are meant to think she is in bed with Adam, who is posing as Anthony. And Helen says something about him at school. Now, Anthony doesn’t go to school. He’s the actor. So the line implies that either Helen knows she is in bed with Adam, or knows that Anthony is living another life as a teacher, and is ready to try calling him out on it. I believe this second line of logic, since he gives her a stunned look, like he is not ready to own up to that yet.
There’s so much going on in this movie, that a second viewing after figuring it all out, makes a world of difference. When Adam calls Anthony’s home for the first time and speaks to Helen, for example, the scene is amazing if watched under the scope that Helen believes she is talking to her husband the entire time. Even at the very end of the phone call, she still says “Anthony?” before he hangs up. Helen is the one character who is on top of things and is very real, and it is most fitting that the movie ends with her becoming a giant spider.