Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Enemy
June 22nd, 2014
Enemy is the latest film from Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal. It was actually made before Prisoners was, but that was a lot more mainstream movie and it earned a theatrical release first. There are many words that can be used to describe Enemy, but mainstream isn't one of them. Is it worth checking out for fans of the unusual? And is the Blu-ray worth picking up?
Speaking of unusual, the movie begins with a man going to see a sex show, a crushing sex show. For those who don't know what that is, I envy you. For those that want to know, crushing shows are erotic shows that end with the woman stomping on a small animal, sometime bugs, but sometime mice or other animals. In this case, it is a tarantula. The next day we see, Adam, a professor teaching about politics in college. Later that night, his girlfriend, Mary, comes over. They have sex, but they don't seem to connect on an emotional level. The next day, he gives the same lecture to another group of students. Mary comes over again. We quickly see his life is rather monotonous and the same events occur.
One day, a colleague of his recommends a movie, Where There's a Will There's a Way. After work, while walking to the subway station, Adam walks past a movie rental place and decides to give the movie a try. When Mary comes by that night, instead of going to bed with her, he decides to watch the movie. Needless to say, his girlfriend is not impressed by this decision and first goes to bed, then leaves when he later tries to have sex with her. That night, Adam has a dream that night where he's in the movie and when he wakes up, he re-watches the scene from the movie and that's when he gets a bit of a shock. He is in the movie. Or to be more accurate, one of the extras who plays a bellhop looks identical to him.
After this, Adam becomes obsessed with his doppelganger. Obsessed isn't the right word, as it implies something unhealthy. If you say someone that looked just like you in a movie, trying to figure out who they are seems like a perfectly normal response. He checks the end credits for the movie and writes down the names of the three actors who played bellhops and a few quick Google searches later discovers his doppelganger is Daniel Saint Claire. He also sees this actor has two other credits and immediately rents those movies as well. He then writes down the address of the talent agency that handles the actor and sneaks in the door. Of course, it's not hard to sneak in, as he looks just like the actor. (He also find out Daniel was a stage name and his real name is Anthony.) He has a conversation with the security guard and even picks up Anthony's mail, which gives him Anthony's home address, which in turn gives him Anthony's phone number. When he calls, Anthony isn't there and his wife, Helen, answers and she's really confused. It appears that not only do Adam and Anthony look alike, they sound alike, so much so that Helen thinks Anthony accidentally called home.
Later when Adam calls again, Anthony picks up and the conversation doesn't go well. Adam tells him his name and that he's a history professor, but very little else before Anthony hangs up. Anthony thinks Adam is a crackpot, and given how Adam acts over the phone, that is a perfectly reasonable conclusion. Helen asks who called, but when Anthony says, she thinks he's lying and they have a fight over his infidelity. Anthony does write down Adam's name and looks him up on the internet and that night when he is asleep, his wife sees the information, so they both know who Adam is and where he works.
The next day, both Anthony and Helen try to contact Adam separately. Anthony calls Adam and sets up a meeting place. Helen goes to the college where Adam teaches. When she spots Adam, she nearly has a nervous breakdown, not that I'm blaming her. Up to this point, I don't blame any of them for acting weird, because this is a weird situation. When Adam and Anthony finally meet, things get even weirder.
I'm of two minds when it comes to Enemy. On the one hand, it has an intriguing premise and the acting performance by Jake Gyllenhaal makes the movie. It's a bizarre premise (with an even more bizarre ending) and in the second half of the movie, some of the characters don't exactly act natural a lot of the time. (Trying to figure out who your doppelganger is makes perfect sense. Trying to sleep with his girlfriend doesn't.) There are also what I would call pacing issues. I knew Enemy was a movie about a man who sees his doppelganger in a movie. While watching the movie, I was waiting for this point to happen and when it did, I thought it was odd it took 30 minutes to get there. I hit the display button on my Blu-ray player and learned it didn't. The dream sequence begins about 15 minutes in and the reveal is 17 minutes in. It only felt like 30 minutes. That's a bad sign.
The strange premise and the slow start will hurt the movie with many people, but fans of unusual movies will likely enjoy the full trip.
The only extra on the DVD or Blu-ray is a 17-minute long featurette. It's a good featurette, but as the only extra, but is weak.
The technical presentation is good, but not great. It is a low-budget Canadian movie, so it doesn't have a lot of visual flare. The level of details is strong, for a drama. The colors are muted, but that is for aesthetic reasons and not a problem with the transfer. I didn't notice any compression issues or digital artifacts. The movie is a dialogue driven drama, so there's not a lot of activity in the surround sound speakers. The bass does have a bit of a workout in a few scenes. That said, the dialogue is clear and that's the most important part.
The Blu-ray costs only $20, which is great for a limited release. However, the DVD only costs $13, which is the better deal.
I think a lot of people who watch Enemy will think to themselves, "What the hell did I just watch?" after the movie ends. But I think the film will stick in audiences' minds a lot longer than most other movies. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or Blu-ray, so a rental will probably be enough.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review, Enemy