Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Berlin Review: Could 'War on Everyone' Be the Best Bad Cop Comedy Ever? Berlin Review: Could 'War on Everyone' Be the Best Bad Cop Comedy Ever? Berlin Review: With 'Midnight Special,' Jeff Nichols Offers Up a Very Special Sci-Fi Thriller Berlin Review: With 'Midnight Special,' Jeff Nichols Offers Up a Very Special Sci-Fi Thriller How They Designed the Characters and Sounds for the Oscar-Nominated 'Mad Max: Fury Road' How They Designed the Characters and Sounds for the Oscar-Nominated 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Meryl Streep to Fund The Writers Lab, Supporting Women Screenwriters Over 40 (EXCLUSIVE) Meryl Streep to Fund The Writers Lab, Supporting Women Screenwriters Over 40 (EXCLUSIVE) Oscar Predictions 2016 Oscar Predictions 2016 Roger Deakins on Shooting Hollywood From the Inside Out in 'Hail, Caesar!' (Video) Roger Deakins on Shooting Hollywood From the Inside Out in 'Hail, Caesar!' (Video) A Letter to Michael B. Jordan A Letter to Michael B. Jordan Bona Fide Acquires Movie Rights to Knausgaard New York Times Series 'My Saga' for Alexander Payne (EXCLUSIVE) Bona Fide Acquires Movie Rights to Knausgaard New York Times Series 'My Saga' for Alexander Payne (EXCLUSIVE) WATCH: 9 Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters on How They Got Their Start, Their Writing Process, and Much More WATCH: 9 Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters on How They Got Their Start, Their Writing Process, and Much More Inside the Oscar Nominees Lunch Inside the Oscar Nominees Lunch How John Ridley and Company Create the Emotional Resonance of 'American Crime' How John Ridley and Company Create the Emotional Resonance of 'American Crime' Top 10 Takeaways:  'Hail, Caesar!' Leads Three New Releases—Which Barely Total $20 Million Top 10 Takeaways: 'Hail, Caesar!' Leads Three New Releases—Which Barely Total $20 Million 'Deadpool' Review & Roundup: Ryan Reynolds Finds a Franchise Worthy of His Talents 'Deadpool' Review & Roundup: Ryan Reynolds Finds a Franchise Worthy of His Talents Arthouse Audit: 'The Club' and 'Rams' Reveal Weakness in Subtitled Film Market Arthouse Audit: 'The Club' and 'Rams' Reveal Weakness in Subtitled Film Market Inside the Directors Guild Awards Inside the Directors Guild Awards Joel & Ethan Coen Crack Each Other Up, And Me, Talking About 'Hail, Caesar!' Joel & Ethan Coen Crack Each Other Up, And Me, Talking About 'Hail, Caesar!' WATCH: Oscar Nominee Tom Hardy Explains Why Shooting 'The Revenant' Was So Bloody Hard (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) WATCH: Oscar Nominee Tom Hardy Explains Why Shooting 'The Revenant' Was So Bloody Hard (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) How They Created the Bear VFX for the Mauling of Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Revenant' How They Created the Bear VFX for the Mauling of Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Revenant' How Quentin Tarantino Resurrected Ultra Panavision 70 for 'The Hateful Eight' How Quentin Tarantino Resurrected Ultra Panavision 70 for 'The Hateful Eight' What Happened to Scorsese's $70-Million Short 'The Audition' Starring DiCaprio, De Niro and Pitt? What Happened to Scorsese's $70-Million Short 'The Audition' Starring DiCaprio, De Niro and Pitt?

Hitchcock Would've Admired Denis Villeneuve's Creepy Puzzler 'Enemy,' Starring Jake Gyllenhaal

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! March 10, 2014 at 2:11PM

Cinema sure loves its psychosexually tortured doppelgangers. If Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" were remade and recast with Jake Gyllenhaal as a gloomy professor in place of Natalie Portman's psycho ballerina, it might look something like Denis Villeneuve's "Enemy," a nifty bit of murky fun rife with unsettling images and a sense of taut dread even good ole Hitch would have admired.
0
'Enemy'
'Enemy'

Cinema embraces psychosexually tortured doppelgangers. If Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" were remade and recast with Jake Gyllenhaal as a gloomy professor in place of Natalie Portman's psycho ballerina, it might look something like Denis Villeneuve's "Enemy," a nifty bit of murky fun rife with unsettling imagery and a sense of taut dread even Alfred Hitchcock would have admired.

In "Enemy," a faithful adaptation of brilliant Portuguese writer Jose Saramago's 2002 novel "The Double," Gyllenhaal plays two versions of himself: Adam Bell, a university lecturer stagnating in a cycle of detached sex with girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent), and Anthony Clair, a middling bit part actor living a posh life alongside his pregnant wife (Sarah Gadon). Adam first spots his doppelganger in a rented film his coworker casually recommends -- immediately throwing him into a spiral of paranoia and obsession.

"Enemy," which debuted at TIFF alongside "Prisoners," marks Villeneuve's most personal film to date, occupying the dark corners of the unconscious of a piece with Roman Polanski's doppelganger creeper, "The Tenant" (1976). Tightly plotted by screenwriter Javier Gullon, and wasting not an ounce of the film's curt 90-minute runtime, the film was improvised a great deal by the actors. Gyllenhaal effectively embodies two like-minded yet distinct personas, which DP Nicolas Bolduc coordinates seamlessly in sequences where both Adam and Anthony are present. Underneath all that five-o-clock shadow and dusty malaise, Gyllenhaal has rarely looked this sexy. And there are two of him!

A la Hitchcock's best, chilly blondes and Freudian imagery abound, like the grotesque spider that, quite literally, looms over the beige, sickly landscape of the film. Isabella Rossellini delivers a nervy turn as Adam/Anthony's domineering mother -- though Villeneuve and Gullon don't push the Oedipal underpinnings too far. 

Like the grand conceit of the film, the meaning of its potently disturbing final image is up to you: it could haunt your dreams, as it does Adam's, or leave you scratching your head in disbelief. Either way, this pretentious but never overtly self-serious thriller delights in the interplay between the two Gyllenhaals, and the sinuous plot twists that hit like a car crash -- horrifying to watch, but spellbinding nonetheless.

"Enemy" hits select theaters March 14 via A24 and is currently available on DirecTV

This article is related to: Reviews, Enemy, Denis Villeneuve, Jake Gyllenhaal, Toronto International Film Festival


E-Mail Updates






Festivals on TOH



Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.