All the way back to Donnie Darko, Jake Gyllenhaal has had an inchoate sense of evolution about him, a tricky quality that better actors can’t pull off half as well. So it’s hard to say if splitting the star into two doppelgängers—Adam, a mousy college professor, and Anthony, a rising actor with a healthy ego—is the best dramatic plan. Enemy goes for it, even though division isn’t Gyllenhaal’s strong suit. You wait for the counterparts to clash, to morph into each other and begin to blur (as in José Saramago’s original novel), but the movie is too literal and compartmentalized to take the psychological plunge it seems to constantly be intimating.
Director Denis Villeneuve (who directed Gyllenhaal to superior, underrated work in Prisoners) does an expert job in creating a yellowed, washed-out Toronto, an almost abstract place, perfect for his Hitchcockian blonds (Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon) to swan around in, alluringly. The mood is hypnotically quiet, tinged with surreal flashes such as a huge Louise Bourgeoisian spider dangling over the cityscape. Your crowd will exit in a spooked jumble after witnessing Enemy’s final shot, and though the moment certainly adds fangs to the mind games, it feels just as detachable as its leading man.
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