Enemy features Jake Gyllenhaal playing two roles. Are they identical twins? We're not saying, but it does lead our Enemy review to wonder: For fans of Gyllenhaal, does two Gyllenhaals make a better movie than one?
Gyllenhaal reunites with his Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve and pulls double duty as Adam and Anthony. The two look exactly alike and have no idea the other exists. When one rents a movie one night and discovers that one of the smaller parts is played by an actor who looks uncannily like him, he does some research. Turns out, they both live in the same city and now he is determined to meet his doppelganger… or is it his twin?
Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal made beautiful, albeit eerie, music together on Prisoners and we wish we could say the same for Enemy. The premise is startlingly good, especially the parts screenwriter Javier Gullon uses from Jose Saramago’s novel. But, Gullon and Villeneuve add a beginning and ending to the story that completely derails the entire power of a potentially explosive story.
Gyllenhaal does his best, but even his keen acting skills cannot save this film from a “what could have been” fate. It’s honestly frustrating because at its heart, and in Saramago’s book, this is beyond powerful. When these two characters meet, neither will be the same and frankly, neither will anyone who knows them.
What is nice is to see Gyllenhaal seriously stretched as an actor. He plays both parts so differently, that we don’t need to know who is who by looking at them; their mannerisms and personalities already advertise that fact. Adding a chilling turn is Isabella Rossellini as a character given no other name other than Mother. The way she plays the character, it’s like she knows there are two… giving credence to the theory that they are twins who never know about the other’s existence.
But, that too is complicated in that there are questions raised by Gyllenhaal and Rossellini’s interaction that are never resolved. That’s fine. We don’t need our movie's I’s dotted and T’s crossed. But, when a bombshell is revealed… a filmmaker and storyteller of any kind need to not pretend it didn’t happen. And we believe that is exactly what happens in Enemy.
The promise that was shown in the Enemy trailer is never fully realized. The ending will leave you utterly confused. And unlike some endings that are twists and have you going back through the movie, the conclusion to Enemy feels like it completely derails the entire film you just witnessed.
Our Enemy review feels that your time would be better spent if you watch Brokeback Mountain online.