It’s just coincidence that a few days ago I caught Face off (1997) admittedly there is no mad-cap scientific explanation in Enemy (2013) to account for the duplicity going on here. And yes there’s no body swapping. Instead you’ve got a tense thriller of identical men that has not just the Jake Gyllenhaal confused but the audience too. After an opening sequence of a secret meeting, naked women are objectified by ogling men, we camera only glances at this meeting, we see little of Gyllenhaal amongst these men. All we know is he is one. Setting the tone of this dark film, the look and the feel is laid out in this obscured moment we are allowed to forget as it lingers in the mind, what its connection, who is it connected to.
They say we have at least 6 doubles in the world, not that we would ever really meet them. One of mine was spotted in a geography book in high school (apparently). You don’t really expect to meet them, which history teacher Adam does when by chance he discovers his double, a bit part actor on a DVD whilst marking papers. The image takes a while to hit him, a presence he just can’t shake. An urge he cannot easily forget, taking stalker like proportions to satisfy his need to know more about this actor Anthony, living in Toronto. It does drawing comparisons with Alfred Hitchcock‘s Scottie in Vertigo (1958), of course not being so obsessive there do share that need to dig further to know more before both finally do meet.
Facing the reality of their reality is a hard task for Adam the more sensitive of the two who wants to back out when it becomes all too real. He wish came true before it turns into a nightmare. Gyllenhaal playing dual roles really is convincing, it doesn’t take much when all he needs to do is change his hair and clothes. Playing two sides of the same coin practically, twins separated at birth. Although thats not what Anthony’s mother (Isabella Rossellini) thinks, which is our first real sign that nothing is as we believe it to be. That the turning point from being straight forward, ok we have two men who are doubles right down to the facial hair. However doubt is put into our minds when she mentions something about one of the men’s career aspirations.
What could be nothing more than a strange coincidence is built upon by Anthony’s wife Helen (Sarah Gado) seeks out the double to see for herself who he is, the strength of his claim which is uncanny. Yet when the obvious switch occurs its not what we expect to happen. Everything is heightened, our expectations are not met, flipping everything into reverse as they assume each others lives. Not only are they being confused so are we, which makes this incredibly gripping to watch, you never really know what to expect. All squeezed into a short running time, its all the more fighters, left open at the end to interpretation, what really just happened here?