“Enemy” is surprisingly involving as it takes viewers down the winding road of a puzzle that does its best to hide the pieces. Grasping for the point of this seedy production tinged in yellowy dark lighting provides an array of options, as it infuses as much overwrought emotion as possible. One example of this is when a character falls into a heap for no cohesive reason. The fact is the situation is so legitimately fathomable, the creepy undertones the film tries to provoke comes across disingenuous.
When the story begins there is a scraggly teacher named Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal). His life is basic and repetitive. He is involved in a relationship with a practically speechless girlfriend (Melanie Laurent). While watching a movie he spots an extra (or atmosphere artist) who bears an identical resemblance to him, a doppelganger. This ignites a furious determination to learn who the man is and unravel the mystery as to why they share the same face.
It sounds like a logical thing to wonder and in the realm of mysteries the story makes for a compelling one. The underlying legend that if one is to spot their double, they will die shortly afterwards, would be a possible explanation as to why there is such an intensity surrounding this not so urgent circumstance and yet the film never plays that card. The paranoia, heightened emotion and fear exhibited by the main character, comes across strikingly irrational without this context.
There are subtle hints along the way pushing viewers to one conclusion and then another. There is a lack of consistency in these clues and that is what makes it difficult to follow along or enjoy the mystery. In remaining so purposefully ambiguous, it offers little to actually grapple with. The film is an illusion, a chance to take whatever you want from it. It is a case of pictographic ambiguity. There is no right or wrong answer. Similar to seeing a formation in the clouds, “Enemy” creates enough of an image to think something exists without ever substantiating anything. It attempts to incite the viewer the same way the aforementioned Rorschach test is designed to do. Continued...