Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a Toronto-area history teacher who leads a very mundane life. Whilst watching a rental movie one night, Adam spots an extra that looks a bit like him. He decides to find out a bit more about the actor and learns that his name is Daniel Saint Claire (who is also played by Jake Gyllenhaal). His real name is Anthony Claire, and he is a Toronto based actor with only a few on-screen credits, and wife called Helen who is seven months pregnant. Adam’s curiosity soon becomes an obsession, and he learns that their physical appearance is identical – even a scar on their chest is the same. The only difference is Anthony is a lot more together than Adam, although the more involved they get with each other, this quickly changes.
First of all, let me just apologise for the dismal plot summary. I’ll be 100% honest with you and admit that I really didn’t understand Enemy. The lack of comprehension was so bad in fact that I actually had to Google what the whole point of it was. However, once the kind people of the Internet explained, it all became very clear and I confess that I did think it was all very clever.
I think that the audience has to give full credit to Gyllenhaal for his two great performances. I’ll talk first about him in the role of Adam. He was your average high school teacher who led a very humdrum, slightly isolated life. You did kind of wonder whether or not Adam was quite all there in the way that he struggled or was reluctant to socialise with people, and in the way that he seriously obsessed over Anthony. It’s needless to say that Adam was a character that would be used to seeing Gyllenhaal play – a bit of a social outsider who can get creepy very quickly.
As Anthony, he was the complete polar opposite. Anthony was very socially adept, and he had it together. You didn’t feel uncomfortable with him because he just behaved normally. This is why I think Gyllenhaal did such a good job. His roles were so different but also so similar at the same time, and he had to play each role in a way where you could differentiate between the two, but also not feel that they’re so different that they don’t link in some way as this would then ruin the whole premise of the story.
As I said, the story is something that I didn’t understand when I watched it first. After reading an explanation, I must admit the whole point of the film became clear and I didn’t feel too cheated by the whole thing.
All in all, Enemy probably won’t be your favourite film, but if you can understand it and the message it’s trying to send out, you’ll probably grow to possess some kind of respect for it. Sorry, it’s very cryptic, but Enemy is a film where if I say any more than I have already, there would be no point in you watching it, therefore there’s not a fat lot I can say to sell it to you other than its very clever when you get it and Gyllenhaal is wonderful in it, although he is in everything he’s in, so that’s nothing new either.