Enemy – Eerie double trouble from indie doppelganger chiller
Jake Gyllenhaal turns in a suitably creepy performance
Film review Although Enemy, the small indie take on Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s The Double, was made in 2013, it’s only just getting a limited UK release now. Which is a shame, as Jake Gyllenhaal plays both downtrodden everyman and charming lecher with understated grace in this psychologically thrilling tale of a man who discovers his exact double is a small-time movie actor.
Gyllenhaal is Adam Bell, the history teacher with a seriously beige life, both literally and metaphorically, who spots his double Anthony Claire in a bit part in a movie recommended by a colleague. As in the novel, Bell becomes obsessed with finding Claire, going to great lengths to discover his home address in an effort to meet him. Meanwhile, the women in the doubles’ lives, Gadon as Claire’s wife and Laurent as Bell’s (inexplicably gorgeous) girlfriend, become increasingly disturbed by their men’s behaviour.
Unlike the book, though, there is a strange element of psychosexual imagery going on, involving women, spiders and some sort of underground sex club that the Claire double is involved with.
Needless to say, the eventual meeting between the two men doesn’t go quite as Bell imagined and the domineering Claire soon has the upper hand. He devises a plan to convince Bell that he believes Bell slept with his wife, so that he can, in turn, spend a night with Bell’s girlfriend.
But Claire has underestimated his tamer double – Bell sees his own chance when Claire leaves his clothes behind and takes off to enact his own masquerade with Claire’s wife.
This is an eerie doppelganger tale, with plenty of moody ambience, washed out colours and ominous music to give us a chilling thriller. There’s clearly some deeper meaning behind the whole spider/woman thing that’s probably something to do with the control that both Bell and Claire are obsessed with and the fact that occupying each other’s skin turns out to be a more transformative experience than either of them was hoping for.
But even without the subtext, it’s some thoroughly creepy imagery that’s used sparingly enough to keep its shock value right to that freaky head-scratcher of an ending.
There’s a moment in the film when Claire’s security guard tells Bell he can’t stop thinking about where he and Claire went the other night, that it keeps popping into his head at strange times. He’s talking about that underground sex club, but the same applies to this menacing story, which sticks with you long after you watch it. ®
Director Denis Villeneuve
Cast Sarah Gadon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Isabella Rossellini
Release date January 2 (UK limited)
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