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Movie Review: Denis Villeneuve's surreal psychological thriller 'Enemy'



Canadian auteur Denis Villeneuve isn't afraid to leave audiences guessing.

Enemy poster artwork
Courtesy of A24 Films

His bizarre psychological thriller "Enemy" features jaundiced cinematography, a creepy horror score, and surreal melancholy storyline about a man who seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.

It's a twisted recipe worthy of another famous Canadian filmmaker, David Cronenberg.

Based on "The Double," a novel by Nobel Prize-winning novelist José Saramago, "Enemy" was written by Javier Gullón, and filmed in Toronto in 2012 before Villeneuve made the acclaimed hostage drama "Prisoners" starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

"Enemy" opens with a surreal sex club sequence in which a disheveled ­Gyllenhaal enters a dimly lit sex club, where a group of bored-looking guys in suits watch a woman masturbate onstage followed by another nude woman stomping on a live tarantula with her stiletto heel.

From there the movie gets weirder with its relentless dread-inducing score creating a sense of foreboding in the viewer no matter how mundane the images on screen appear to be.

Gyllenhaal plays the doppleganger roles of Adam, a bored Toronto history professor, and Anthony, an out-of-work actor, whose claim to fame is several small movie roles.

Eventually the two meet each other with Anthony later forcing Adam to trade places with him. The ensuing life and wife/girlfriend swap results in an unexpected finale.

Although the film seems at times like a surreal mishmosh of doppelganger thriller elements, Villeneuve keeps things moving at a brisk pace so that audiences don't get bored too easily.

However, the result is a whatthef*** ending that will either have you singing praises for the director's genius or laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing.

"Enemy" opened in New York theaters on March 14. It will open in the Los Angeles area on March 21.

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