OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Enemy

From the director and star of Prisoners

Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy establishes Toronto as a glass-and-steel cocoon, a frontier town bordering a near future where people are so alienated from themselves (and each other) that they don’t even know who they are, a place where a frumpy history prof (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a motorcycle-riding wannabe actor (also Gyllenhaal) are entirely interchangeable.

Poster art for EnemyWhen an academic colleague recommends a movie to him, Professor Adam Bell is disturbed to spot a bit player named Anthony Clair who appears to be his exact double. After tracking the man to his Mississauga apartment, Adam starts calling Anthony’s wife (Sarah Gadon) and making plans to meet his doppelgänger in a roadside motel. The two become obsessed with living the other’s life. Or, more pointedly, with the other’s woman. The downtrodden Adam pines for the homey comforts of Anthony’s pregnant partner, meanwhile, Anthony begins stalking Adam’s vixenish girlfriend (Mélanie Laurent).

The lurid pleasures of Villeneuve’s identity-crisis mind-bender – a recurring tarantula motif, intimations of a members-only sex club in a condo basement and a strange cameo by Isabella Rossellini as an overbearing mother force-feeding her kid blueberries – are entirely trifling.

But they’re put across with such giddy, nasty aplomb that it’s impossible not to savour them. And Gyllenhaal is terrific. Twice.

– John Semley, NOW Toronto

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