Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

March 27, 2014

CALLERI: 'Enemy' has a secret you must never reveal

Niagara Gazette — The new psychological thriller “Enemy” does such a superb job of getting inside the lead character’s head that the story may well disrupt your own psyche and stay with you long after you’ve left the theater, certainly much longer than the usual mind-altering movie fare about perceptions run wild.

The film, based on a novel by Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese writer Jose Saramago called “The Double,” is about curiosity taken to the extreme. What would you do to know what others know? Would you want to share another man’s dreams? His demons? The woman in his life? What if the other man were you? Not like looking in a mirror, but actually being the mirror?

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam, a sullen history professor at a college in a bleak and smog-bound Toronto, its hazy sky a jaundiced yellow, like so many nicotine-stained fingers. Adam’s routines are dull, his clothes disheveled, his blonde girlfriend Mary seemingly around as an excuse for him to exhibit some energy during their occasional sex. He lives in a dreary apartment in a cluster of equally dreary buildings the tourists never see.

One day a teaching colleague asks Adam if he likes movies. We aren’t surprised when Adam, a torpid and noncommittal person to begin with, responds with languid nonchalance. But he does accept a recommendation to watch a specific film.

While viewing the low-budget work, Adam sees himself playing a bellboy. It’s not just his imagination. It’s not because of make-up. It’s not merely a look-alike. The guy playing the hotel porter is his exact double. Adam becomes fascinated by this. He watches another of the actor’s movies. He researches who he is. He becomes a little bit obsessed. For the moment, he only wants to know who the fellow might be. Is he a twin separated at birth? Maybe it’s something more meaningful, or perhaps more terrifying, especially when you consider the nightmares Adam has, some of which feature giant spiders floating through the urban landscape.

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