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TIFF 2013 Review: Enemy


Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy is a Canadian curio with a mind that belongs to another Lynchian planet. Possibly one inhabited by Godzilla-sized tarantulas and human doppelgängers – no rabbits. But Enemy is evidently made in Toronto with aerial shots of the CN Tower, Port lands, and a closing tracking shot across the Gardiner Expressway, so lengthy that if it were rush hour, there’d be comparisons to that sensational traffic jam scene in Jean-Luc Godard’s Week End.

The film follows the prosaic routines of history teacher Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), whose life turns upside-down with the discovery of a man who is not a freckle or hair short of being Adam’s spitting image. Adam is driven to find this man, a C-list actor named Anthony Clair (Gyllenhaal again); this journey takes Adam to some shabby, abandoned crevice of the city: a gloomy tower block in Toronto’s east end.

Based on José Saramago’s 2002 novel The Double, Enemy is a deranged surrealist drama about two men who not only share exact appearances, but personal lives connected by their failures as lovers (to their significant others played by Melanie Laurent and most distinguishably Canada’s own Sarah Gadon), and deeply repressed sexual anxieties.

Villeneuve connects this notion, I suppose, with the reoccurring symbol of a spider – a motif Villeneuve is coy to explain. Mostly, Enemy moves with a gloomy reluctance, never really building nor exactly boring. The film wins points for oddity, intuitive craftsmanship, a striking final image. While audacious, the film is as muted as Nicolas Bolduc’s moody cinematography; it’s quietly eerie, but too vacant at the seams to achieve greatness.

[star v=35]