A mild-mannered college professor is driven to distraction when he encounters someone who looks exactly like him in Enemy.
History professor Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) lives a very mundane, ordered life. Every day is pretty much routine until a colleague recommends a film that sounds curiously compelling to him. Later that evening, Bell is stunned to realize that one of the actors is his dead-on twin. The resemblance is absolutely uncanny, so much so that Bell can’t get the thought out of his head. He decides that he has to meet this guy at all costs, but how do you go about striking up that conversation? Do you just show up at the guy’s house and let the obvious chips fall where they may?
Here we have a film that typifies the perfect example of the disconnect between art in film and entertainment for the masses. For fans of the art form, the film has it all. Gyllenhaal (obviously playing dual roles) is flawless in the lead roles. The two partners of the twins, Bell’s girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent) and the actor’s wife Helen (Sarah Gadon), complete the performance trifecta. The look is ominously dark and coupled with a synergistic score that keeps everyone on edge throughout.
The plot weaves an intricate path that’s layered in complexity, boldly daring the viewer to try to keep up. Hint after hint is intertwined with distraction, paradox and confusion. Parallels to Mulholland Drive and Shutter Island abound. It makes a fan of the approach giddy with excitement while making everyone else gag in unadulterated disgust.
The main issue with the film is that it’s complete nonsense. It’s all based on a flawed false premise. No one would react the way Bell does to seeing someone that looks just like him. He immediately jumps to the worst possible conclusions. Perhaps it’s just coincidence. Perhaps he’s adopted. Perhaps he has an identical twin that his parents never mentioned. Nope. Instead, Bell has to go immediately to the edge of sanity and jump blindly into the abyss below.
For all but the most curious onlookers, what you get is an indecipherable mess. The story suggests a premise that it continually tries its best to undo while the rest of us are left scratching our heads. The grating, ever-present wind instruments refuse to sound anything but one set of notes. It all culminates with a sudden, incomprehensible and ridiculous final shot that left me wanting to retch. I wish my own evil twin was the one tasked with seeing it. Or am I the evil twin?