Jake Gyllenhaal’s New Film, “Enemy,” is a Psychological Thrill Ride

Review by Peter Foldy

Dark, twisted and surreal, ENEMY, starring JAKE GYLLENHAAL and directed by DENIS VILLENEUVE is a quirky, hypnotic study of two distinct personas as their lives become irrevocably intertwined.

The story deals with a disconnected history professor named Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal) who is going through life onenemy-ENEMY_OS_LARGE_rgb auto-pilot, seemingly lost in a haze of self doubt and apathy.  Bell stays in a dumpy, barely furnished apartment in a seedy party of Toronto and not even his attractive, frisky girlfriend (MELANIE LAURENT) stirs him beyond the occasional and predictable sexual liaison the two of them share.

Watching a movie on the recommendation of a colleague, Adam spots his dobbleganger, a bit player in the film who looks exactly like him.  Compelled to track down the actor, Adam learns that the man’s name is Anthony Clair and the resemblance between them is uncanny in every way, right down to an identical scar on their bodies.

Before long Anthony Clair’s beautiful and pregnant wife, (SARAH GADON) is brought into the mix and the psychodrama begins to take some strange though not totally unexpected turns as it spirals toward it’s violent and stunning conclusion.

Adapted from Nobel prize winning author,enemy-ENEMY_DAY4-0054_rgb Jose Saramago’s 2004 novel, The Double, the film examines those dark corners of the mind where fear and fantasy reside, where hope is a limited option and psychological survival is something that may come with a price.

All the performances are subtle and exceptional but it is Mr. Gyllenhaal who does the heavy lifting here in the duel roles of Bell and Clair.  He manages to find the nuances of both the characters and in the process creates sympathetic portrayals that keep the suspense slowly bubbling till it come to a full boil.

Director of Photography,  NICOLAS BOLDUC and the film’s director, Villeneuve  turns Toronto into a bleak sea of bland, sterile high rise apartments where people live less than ordinary lives, where secrets abound, waiting to rise to the surface.  With muted tones and great attention to detail the film shows us a world where anyone might be the enemy, or is the enemy living inside us all?

Currently playing on VOD through DirectTV and opening theatrically March 14, 2014, “Enemy” is a film well worth seeing.




A review:

Quintin Tarantino’s latest film is a gory, delicious and highly stylized revenge fantasy that is in many ways reminiscent of the action-packed, episodic Saturday afternoon matinee films of long ago.

Inglourious Basterds begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz).

Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine

Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine

Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema.

Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to Nazis as “The Basterds,” Raine’s squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich.

Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus

Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus

Everything comes to a boil under a cinema marquee, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own.

Tarantino takes his time to unfold several layers of the story and at times certain scenes play out like an Agatha Christie play, with scenes that build and build as pieces of the puzzle are revealed in a explosion of gun fire.

A number of actors shine brightly. Most notably Christof Waltz as the Nazi Colonel known to his men as “The Jew Hunter.” Waltz in an Academy baiting performance is at the center of the story with his multi-lingual bad guy character who always gets him man (or woman).

Diane Kruger, oozing old-school glamor as German movie star Bridget von Hammersmark, and Daniel Bruhl as Nazi war hero Fredrick Zoller who’s about to become a star by playing himself in a propaganda film about his exploits both give excellent performances.

Perhaps the most human and sympathetic performance is by French actress, Mélanie Laurent whose beauty and vulnerability makes us squirm as she falls into “The Jew Hunter’s” trap.

Brad Pitt is fun to watch as the fearless good-ole-boy Lieutenant Aldo Raine who lets nothing stand in the way of his mission or his personal convictions.  Great cameos from Mike Myers as a stuffy old British General and Australian actor, Rod Taylor as Winston Churchill.

Cinematography by Robert Richardson is rich and beautiful. Production design by David Wasco is detailed and impressive. Sally Menke’s editing is sharp.

Inglourious Basterds is violent, colorful and thought provoking. Tarantino’s best film since Pulp Fiction, it is certainly the most fun to be had in the cinema this summer so far.

We give it: ****