| June 24, 2014

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam, a bored college history professor more or less living with his girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent).  One evening, Adam watches a movie on the recommendation of a colleague and spots an actor who looks alarmingly like himself.  Intrigued by this, Adam tracks down his doppelganger, Anthony, only to discover that not only do they look exactly the same, but they have identical scars.  Things quickly go dark when Anthony finds a way to exploit Adam’s likeness, but a lot of potential is wasted here unfortunately.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Jake Gyllenhaal’s work.  He always strikes me as really flat and uninteresting.  Fortunately, these characters play to his strengths, but I still wonder what a better actor could have done with these roles.  I do find the opportunism of Anthony’s character interesting.  The contrast with Adam’s decency makes the characters conveniently opposite despite their physical similarity.  That metaphor is a bit too easy for me to find interesting, but the plot of Anthony forcing Adam to switch places with him is a cool idea, and a fresh take on the Prince and the Pauper story we’ve seen a hundred times before.

Sarah Gadon, who plays Anthony’s pregnant wife, offers a muted and complicated performance as she struggles to come to terms with seeing someone who looks identical to her husband.  I had heard that there are an estimated 6 people in the world who look exactly like each of us.  This is presumably due to a finite number of genetic combinations, but apparently the characters in the movie have never heard of this phenomenon.  Granted, the scarring and the fact that Adam and Anthony are the same age suggests something else at play here, but that something is never explained.  Not being given an explanation for our doppelgangers feels lazy on the filmmakers’ part, but it is what it is.

Ultimately, the premise of the movie is abandoned near the end.  We get a decent climax, but no satisfactory resolution.  I randomly came across an article that claims that the ending of Enemy is being hailed as one of the scariest endings in film history.  I have no idea how much truth there is to that.  I found the final shot surprising and startling, but mostly I just laughed at the absurdity of it, and lost respect for anything I was starting to like in the rest of the film because the final shot is too out of place.

Special Features include a behind the scenes featurette.  Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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