Movies » Reviews

Jake Gyllenhaal meets the Enemy, and the enemy is himself in Denis Villeneuve's kinky thriller

Jake and Double Jake

by

comment

Jake Gyllenhaal must've impressed director Denis Villeneuve last year with all his facial tics and weird character quirks when he played the dedicated detective in Villeneuve's Prisoners. Gyllenhaal now stars in Villeneuve's new psychological thriller Enemy, a movie which I'm surprised more people haven't started referring to as The Two Jakes.

Gyllenhaal plays a history professor who lives a mundane existence in Canada with his girlfriend (Melanie Laurent). One night, he watches a movie where he sees an actor he eerily resembles. Instead of going, "Hey, that's crazy!" and maybe dropping a message on dude's Facebook page about how similar they look, the professor gets full-on obsessed with this bit player. Fortunately, this guy lives in the same Canadian province, which gives our boy plenty of chances to do some stalkerrific shit. Things take an interesting turn when we find out more about the actor (also played by Gyllenhaal), who has a pregnant, suspicious wife (Sarah Gadon) and some secrets of his own.

Doppelganger thrillers appear to be back in vogue these days — Jesse Eisenberg stars in a movie version of Dostoyevsky's The Double co-scripted by Avi Korine that's coming out in May, while a new season of BBC America's Orphan Black is just around the corner — and Enemy is the first out of the gate this year with its who-are-you madness. Villeneuve tacks a few more things onto this adaptation of Jose Saramago's heady 2002 novel The Double for that extra dose of WTF. He throws in a secret sex club where dudes watch naked gals pleasure themselves and step on spiders. Oh yeah — the spiders! Spiders are a constant in this flick, around to represent either living in a totalitarian society or how easily people can weave webs of lies and deceit. (Whatever the reason, arachnophobes should know they play a huge role in the startling, da-hell-was-that-about ending.)

Although I appreciate Villeneuve's restraint in keeping this to a tight 90 minutes (as opposed to the 153-minute endure-a-thon of Prisoners), Enemy still suffers from the rampant irrationality — from its characters to the story itself — that always takes me out of this kind of mindfuck thriller. And that's the double truth.

Email arts@nashvillescene.com.

Tags

Add a comment