Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy” is a dark, twisted psychological drama that takes you into the life of a history teacher, Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal), who leads a somewhat average life. When a coworker randomly suggests a movie for him, Adam decides to check it out, only to discover that one of the actors looks exactly like him. This puts Adam on an obsessive journey to find out who this person is and why they look identical. However, as he instigates contact, he begins having second thoughts, but as he finds out, it may be too late to go back to his normal life, if in fact his normal life was ever his to begin with.
“Enemy” is another one of those ambiguous films that asks you to make your own interpretation of the story based on what you’ve seen. As with many films of this type, several strange scenes featuring seemingly random elements are present, so there’s usually a lot to work with. However, while ambiguity in film is fine, one of the main things that the film needs to present is a reason to care enough about it so that the audience member will want to bother figuring out what it all means. Unfortunately, this is something that Villeneuve and screenwriter Javier Gullon, working from the novel by Jose Saramago, have forgotten to include.
For the most part, this is a pretty straightforward film about a man finding out he has a twin, which is a strange situation indeed, but not nearly as strange a situation as the overly-moody atmosphere would have you believe. As the film progresses, nothing emerges from this plotline to pull you in, leaving things pretty much at a mundane level throughout most of it before completely flying apart in the third act. Because of this, it’s a film that you’re not likely to give a second thought to once it’s over, which was certainly not the filmmakers’ intention. This is clearly a film you’re meant to think about for a while. Were there really two of them? Is Adam schizophrenic? Why does Adam freak out so much when he meets his twin? These are the questions we’re supposed to be contemplating, but without a decent amount of substance, most people are just going to shrug it off when the credits start to roll. To put it simply, more people are likely to question why they watched it instead of questioning what they just watched, which only goes to show that ambiguity on its own is not enough to make a good film.
“Enemy” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.4:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of varying quality. During scenes taking place in the light, the picture is bright and clear enough, but the dark scenes are very dark, making it hard to see much of anything. It doesn’t interfere with the film too much, but a little more effort could have gone into sharpening the picture for a better viewing experience. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is very soft, but otherwise it’s of decent quality. It’s a very quiet film in the first place, but the dialogue and score have been given fair treatment, allowing everything to be heard perfectly after the needed volume adjustment. Overall, while there could have been some improvements made, there’s no major issue in either area.
Lucid Dreams: The Making of Enemy: A behind the scenes featurette featuring interviews with the cast and crew in which they discuss the story and characters, among other topics. It’s not particularly informative, so it’s easily skippable.
“Enemy” is a film that had amazing and thrilling possibilities, but even with a premise that could have gone one of hundreds of interesting ways, the filmmakers were unable to utilize it to its full potential. It has the feeling of a film not thought about all the way through, one that seems as though it was improvised scene by scene on a day to day basis. There was certainly the start of a good idea in here, it’s just a shame that we don’t get to see it come to life.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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