Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Enemy Review

3D is a gimmick to add three dollars to a ticket price at the cinema, and the point is to "immerse yourself into the experience". A strange way to start a review for the astonishing and baffling film Enemy, but I have a method to my madness. Spiders play a heavy symbolic role in this film, and on more than one occasion I actually looked down at my arms because I could feel my skin crawl. This was due to the ridiculously creepy tone of the film, the spot on performance (performances, actually) by Jake Gyllenhaal, and the hauntingly perfect score.

No fancy pair of glasses could draw me into a film like Denis Villeneuve can. Last year he absolutely floored me with the thriller Prisoners, finishing in my top five of the year, but if you go into your screening of Enemy expecting a similar work you are going to walk out of the theater perplexed. Actually, regardless of expectations you will walk out of this one scratching your head, but hopefully you will open your mind up to the mystery and spend time thinking about what was achieved here without immediately writing it off. Challenging cinema such as this perfectly exemplifies why I find film to be the best way to access the mind of an artist. If I didn't have work  in seven hours, I would be tempted to watch it again right now.

Gyllenhaal plays Adam, a history professor leading a mundane life, a man who shows very little enthusiasm for, well, anything. One day while on break at work, a colleague attempts small talk with Adam by asking if he is a fan of movies, which leads to a recommendation. At first it seems the suggestion will be ignored, but something draws Adam into the video store. As the film ends he seems unimpressed, but a dream that night regarding what he saw brings him out of his slumber in alarming fashion. He realizes he recognized an actor playing a bellhop: himself.

My eyes refused to leave the screen as I was constantly pondering what would happen next, and the final shot of the film is confounding and yet absolutely terrifying. I feel like I am putting some of the pieces together, but without a doubt a revisit is in order. When the film ended I was reminded of how I felt after the David Lynch masterpiece Mulholland Drive, a stupid smile on my face as I was literally asking myself "What the fuck?!?!" aloud. I learned a valuable lesson from filmmakers like Lynch, Kubrick, Malick and others, that not fully understanding a film after one viewing was not a bad thing. In fact, I feel it is quite the opposite. True art that is rich with symbolism is meant to puzzle us and infect our minds with wonder and curiosity. It wouldn't be very much fun if it were simple.


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