Film Review: Enemy

I find it really interesting that one fact can be taken by two different people and used to make entirely reflected points. Seven days after Mark Kermode had said that On-Demand film services and cross platform releases were a good thing as they allowed the widest possible audience the chance to view a film that would otherwise pass them by simultaneously; James King, ironically sitting in for Kermode, declared that anything released onto the small screen through On-Demand at the same time as the big screen was a sign of potential downfall in quality.

And one such example is Jake Gyllenhaal’s latest offering – Enemy. Currently getting a very limited big screen run, it is also available through Curzon’s Home Cinema service, and with Gyllenhaal’s stock on the rise after his performance in Nightcrawler, I thought I’d give it a go.

I essentially knew nothing about the film aside from Gyllenhaal’s involvement. I hadn’t even watched the trailer, and while James King had reviewed it, it was a brief passing gesture, tacked on at the end. And so, whatever I was letting myself in for was going to be an unbiased experience. And what an experience it was.

Jake Gyllenhaal - Enemy

I still have no idea what the film is really about. To be honest, I doubt anybody who has watched the film will have any idea what it is about either. Confusing doesn’t even come close. There is obviously an idea to personify Newton’s third law – every action has an equal but opposite reaction – but after that, it twists, weaves and spins so much staccato narrative around that idea that it becomes impossible to follow. A loses all flow.

Essentially, you are left with a film that is 90 minutes of Gyllenhaal, Gyllenhaal and Gyllenhaal. With absolutely no idea how anything fits together. I spent large portions of the movie trying to guess which doors it was opening, what the big twist would be, trying to make it make sense. To reason and understand, and for every question it created in my mind, it never even attempted to relieve an answer. It struck me that Enemy is likely to only makes sense in the eyes of the director. In the man who has the key to the door. I almost wanted a running commentary to explain how each scene fits together, how the pieces link into the story. As I think once you’re in “the know” it’s probably a very clever story that will open up a wider debate. The problem is, nobody is in the know!

Whatever you think of the film, you have to mention Gyllenhaal though, because while his performance isn’t on the level of Nightcrawler, once again he has taken a role that is solely focused on him. He is literally never off screen. He is in every shot. And it would have therefore, been very easy to bore of him, to get fed up with constantly seeing him especially as you become more and more removed from the films real motive. But you don’t and he manages to hold everything together and keep you entertained.

Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler

I can however, find fault with the sound track. While it’s chilling, cold and haunting, it felt forced. It felt at times like it was trying to pressure you into emotions and feelings in an artificial and unnecessary way. I has always felt that the best soundtracks are the ones that you don’t notice, they compliment and blend into the film rather than sitting on top, like a skin of tension. And throughout Enemy, it’s musical notes definitely fall into the latter category, and at times even dominant proceedings.

I have come away from Enemy completely confused, and slightly drained. It’s just a little too bizarre for its own good and ends up failing to really sink in, instead intriguing suspicion and a longer for a clearer understanding. It certainly gets under your skin, and I, in a strange juxtaposition, enjoyed it but I wouldn’t ever want to watch it again, and don’t think people will be missing out if they never see it.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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