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Blu-ray Review: Enemy

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Once in a while you get a film you want to shout about and drag in people to cinemas (or through them a disc) in order to make them watch it. But then, once you have them captive in the cinema auditorium, or sitting in the sofa in front of the TV, you feel the need to add a caveat: ‘Ah, this is a bit weird’ or ‘Stick with it through the strange bits’ or even ‘This isn’t your normal Jake Gyllenhaal movie’. Not that I know what a normal Jake Gyllenhaal movie is, since his diverse CV covers everything from heartbreaking love stories such as Brokeback Mountain or the more comedic Love and Other Drugs to films like Jarhead and crime epic Prisoners.

But whatever a normal Jake Gyllenhaal movie is, this isn’t one of them, but it does have a connection to Prisoners; it’s directed Denis Villeneuve. It has less mainstream aspirations than that movie but I would argue it is the better film (which is saying something, considering how superb that film managed its tension and controversial political commentaries).

Though set in a Canadian city, Villeneuve does well in making it feel like we’ve been thrown into an almost alien or dystopian world. Within this world, full of yellow-tinged cityscapes and apartment flats, Jake Gyllenhaal is a university lecturer named Adam Bell whose world is sent spinning in terrifying directions when he watches a film and sees himself starring back at him. The man is an actor, living not too far away, and our protagonist gets in contact with him.

This may sound like a simple doppelganger thriller, but I can promise you that it is anything but. Right from the seductively weird opening scene (watch the spider – the spider is important) this film succeeds in being a strange, twisting and at times deeply disturbing immersion into an uneasy world.

I was also struck by the striking visual reference to artist Louise Bourgeois's work (the spider hovering over the city seen on the poster and Blu-ray cover art). Google her. The sculpture was a major work in 1999 (exhibited in the Tate in London and also in Canada). The title of the sculpture was 'Maman', which is French for 'mother'. I’m not going to spoil too much for prospective viewers here, but as you watch the film you’ll start to realise that there is a lot going on involving both Spiders and the relationship with Adam's mother.

Enemy so weird and disconcerting that some viewers may find it too uncomfortable to be enjoyable. I, however, loved it and it’s very hard to put into words the levels of terror the film’s final scene has the power to invoke. Is this horror? Is this science fiction? Is this a story about madness? Make your own mind up. All I can say is that it will stay with you for a long time.

A note on the disc: Typical of Artificial Eye (here using their Curzon Film World label), the Blu-ray presentation of Enemy is first-rate. Nicolas Bolduc's Arri Alexa-captured digital cinematography is superbly presented via a gorgeous-looking 2.40:1-framed transfer. The special extras are a little thin on the ground, though the Making-of doc is watchable enough. 

Enemy is released on Blu-ray and DVD from 9 February and is available on VoD platforms now, Certificate 15. Watch a trailer below:


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