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Enemy: mind-bending cinema

Jon Fuge

Topics Culture

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Every once in a while, a film comes along that pushes your mental faculties to breaking point. Enemy is such a film: a disturbing parable which will stay with you long after the credits have rolled as you attempt to analyse and unravel the events you have just witnessed.

Enemy tells the story of Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a lowly history professor who watches a little-known movie on the recommendation of a colleague. While watching the movie, Adam spots something very odd – his exact double. Out of curiosity he decides to track down this man. The search soon consumes his life and psyche.

In a nutshell, Enemy is a psychological horror film, but it is also so much more. It is a character study, a thriller, a comment on infidelity and a study in identity. Director Denis Villeneuve crafts a living nightmare from which there are no obvious answers or escape.

Villeneuve takes inspiration from classic surrealist cinema, with shades of David Cronenberg and David Lynch. Terrifying scenes in which giant spiders suddenly appear take place with no real explanation or clear link to the narrative. The film is draped in unease and cast in a nicotine-yellow palette. You feel uncomfortable and grimy throughout. But it’s also a demanding piece – one that requires complete attention in order to piece together the puzzle.

Enemy is not an easy watch, especially for those who hate films that are more brain-training than entertainment. But persist and, like Bell, you’ll discover something unnerving and sublime.

Jon Fuge is a writer based in London.

Watch the trailer for Enemy:

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