Enemy debuted in 2013 as Villeneuve’s first film he did not personally write. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam Bell, a high school history teacher drifting through life. Bell finds little joy in the monotony in his every day life, even intimacy with his girlfriend seems uninteresting. A colleague asks Bell if he watches any movies and Bell mentions that they don’t pique his interest. Bell later sits down to watch, When There’s a Will, There’s a Way, wherein he notices an actor portraying a bellhop in the movie who looks identical to himself.
Bell does his research to find the actor’s name (Daniel Saint Claire) and his other films. Bell watches the other two and is enthralled to find a someone finding success in their life, yet looking exactly the same as him. Bell begins to stalk Saint Clare, even so far as to pose as Saint Clare and accept a document addressed to Saint Clare at a talent agency. Bell even calls Saint Clare’s home and speaks to his wife. At first distressed, Saint Clare agrees to meet Bell and Bell tells him that they look and sound identical. After their meeting, Saint Clair devises a plan to accuse Bell of sleeping with his wife and in retribution will tell Bell the only way to make up for it is to have a romantic weekend getaway with Bell’s girlfriend.
The story ends tragically for Saint Clair and Bell’s girlfriend, while during the return from the weekend getaway, they end up in a devastating car crash. The story is steeped in realism except for the fact that giant spiders roam the skyline of Toronto in which the story is set. Spiders are a theme throughout Enemy that tells the audience everything may not be as it seems. To me, Enemy is a metaphor for intimacy. Adam Bell sees himself in Daniel Saint Clair, because that could be a facet of his personality.
The constant motif of the relationship is ever-present, and Bell seems to identify with Saint Clair’s girlfriend more than his own. It’s almost as if he wants to live another life. Enemy will provoke thought and starts the modern era of Villeneuve film-making.
Enemy is available to rent.
My score: 8.5/10