“Chaos is order yet undeciphered.”
Enemy, psychological thriller drama, starts off with history teacher Adam Bell. He takes the recommendation of a stranger to watch a particular film in which he saw himself in. He finds out that his doppelgänger actor, Anthony Claire. Adam stalks Anthony and the two finally meet where they discover more about the lives of each other. Anthony then decides that both of them should exchange lives for a day, in which they spend time with each other’s significant other. Anthony and Adam’s girlfriend die in a car crash, while Adam and Anthony’s pregnant wife lie in bed. The film ends with one of the most jarring scenes ever – the huge spider.
There are so many plotlines to this film and there are too many ways to interpret it. The film gives space for the audience to peruse the inner thoughts of the characters Jake Gyllenhaal play and provokes the thoughts to whether they are two different people or the same person with two sides to his subconscious. Denis Villeneuve left the answer to this question up to interpretation, with either possibility being equally as viable, making this film endlessly re-watchable despite being highly intellectual.
Enemy uses a few very strong motifs to express the meaning of this very quiet film. The first being the final scene where Adam is confronted with the huge transformation of Anthony’s wife to the ceiling-tall spider. This symbolises the entrapment of Adam by the spider, or how Adam sees the dominance of women in his life, essentially the age-old idea of a black widow. Another very prominent motif is the consistently strong yellowish hue the film is dyed in. This motif represents the Adam being trapped in the loop of self-discovery, unable to break free from the mystery, and it also adds to the surrealistic, dream-like feel the film sets to achieve. These strong motifs with different meanings and layers adds to the complexity of the film, not only provoking thought but exploring themes in greater depth.
The reason why Enemy is so poignant is due to precisely due to the complex yet coherent nature of the film, giving the audience so much to think about, even for days after the film is over. The way the film delivers this complex plot is also interesting in the sense that the information is subtly developed indirectly through the dialogue Adam has with Anthony’s acquaintances, something exceptionally difficult to achieve in a mystery film, a genre riddled with exposition. All in all, Enemy is a great film which challenges even the most intellectual of cinephiles and a true masterpiece of the Thriller genre, completely undeserving of the mixed reception it has.