Enemy (2013 film)

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Enemy poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Produced by
Screenplay by Javier Gullón
Based on The Double 
by José Saramago
Music by
  • Daniel Bensi
  • Saunder Jurriaans
Cinematography Nicolas Bolduc
Edited by Matthew Hannam
  • Mecanismo Films
  • micro_scope
  • Rhombus Media
  • Roxbury Pictures
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 8 September 2013 (2013-09-08) (TIFF)
  • 14 March 2014 (2014-03-14) (Canada)
  • 28 March 2014 (2014-03-28) (Spain)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
  • Canada
  • Spain
Language English
Box office $3.4 million[2][3]

Enemy is a 2013 Canadian-Spanish psychological thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, loosely adapted by Javier Gullón from José Saramago's 2002 novel The Double.[4] The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as two men who are physically identical, but different in terms of personality. Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon co-star as the romantic partners of the men. It was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[5]

Enemy earned five Canadian Screen Awards; Best Director for Villeneuve,[6] as well as a Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Picture.[7] It was named Best Canadian Film of the Year at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards 2014.[8]


A man attends an erotic show at an underground club that culminates with a naked woman on the verge of crushing a live tarantula spider under her patent leather, high-heeled platform shoe. Elsewhere, a pregnant young woman sits on a bed, alone.

Adam Bell, a solitary college history professor who looks identical to the man at the sex show, rents a movie, Where There's a Will There's a Way, on the recommendation of a colleague. Adam sees an actor in a small role who looks exactly like him.

After doing some research online, Adam identifies the actor as Daniel St. Claire, the stage name for one Anthony Claire. Adam rents the other two films in which Anthony has appeared and develops an interest in the man, who appears to be his physical doppelgänger. Adam's girlfriend Mary becomes troubled by the change in his behavior. Adam stalks Anthony, visiting his office and calling him at home. Everyone, including Anthony's pregnant wife Helen, confuses the two. In a separate dream-like image, a giant spider lurks among and above the skyscrapers of Toronto.

Adam and Anthony eventually meet in a hotel room and discover they are perfectly identical copies of each other, including a scar each man has on his left abdomen above the pancreas. Adam is reserved and bookish while Anthony is hot-headed and sexual. After following Mary to work, Anthony confronts Adam, accuses him of having sex with his wife Helen, and demands Adam's clothes and the keys to his car in order to stage a sexual liaison with Mary, promising to disappear from his life forever afterwards. Adam complies, and Anthony takes Mary to the hotel where the two men met. Meanwhile, Adam breaks into Anthony's apartment and gets into bed with Helen, who seems to realize her partner is different and asks Adam to stay.

At the hotel, Mary panics when she sees the mark where Anthony's wedding ring usually sits and demands to know who he is, as her boyfriend doesn't wear a ring. She forces Anthony to drive her home, but the two get into a fight, and the car is involved in a high-speed crash, presumably killing them both.

The next day Adam dresses in Anthony's clothes and finds a key inside the jacket pocket: the same key that was used to get into the private club in the beginning of the movie. Adam is ready to begin life as Anthony. Helen gets out of the shower and enters the bedroom. Adam asks Helen if she is doing anything tonight and follows the question by telling her he will be busy tonight. As he turns the corner, he beholds a tarantula spider big enough to fill the room. It seems strangely frightened of him and cowers against the rear wall. Possibly even more incongruous, however, is Adam's inexplicably muted reaction to this monstrosity; as he stares, his expression is far more resigned than surprised.



A review in Indiewire compared the film to Christopher Nolan's Memento, and called it an "engrossing Kafka-eque[sic] mindfuck cum provocative psychological thriller" that "doesn't reveal itself easily".[9] Both director Villeneuve and leading actor Gyllenhaal spoke of their desire to make the film a challenging exploration of the subconscious.[10][11][12] To Villeneuve, Enemy is ultimately about repetition: the question of how to live and learn without repeating the same mistakes.[10]

Regarding the two physically identical characters: "You don't know if they are two in reality, or maybe from a subconscious point of view, there's just one," said Villeneuve. "It's maybe two sides of the same persona … or a fantastic event where you see another [self]."[10] Gyllenhaal says that Enemy is "about a man who is married, his wife is pregnant, and he’s having an affair. He has to figure himself out before he can commit to life as an adult."[11]

Forrest Wickman of Slate points out that the opening line of the film, "Chaos is order yet undeciphered" is from a line from José Saramago's The Double, the novel on which the film is based. Wickman suggests that Enemy is "a parable about what it's like to live under a totalitarian state without knowing it," and adds that the central irony is that even though the main character is an expert on the ways of totalitarian governments, he does not see the web that's overtaken the city until he is already stuck in it. To Wickman, Enemy suggests that this tendency to create totalitarian regimes is part of human nature, that it comes from within us;[13] he cites Villeneuve's comment: "Sometimes you have compulsions that you can't control coming from the subconscious ... they are the dictator inside ourselves."[13]


Enemy received generally positive reviews from critics and has a rating of 75% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 86 reviews and a rating average of 6.7 out of 10. The site's consensus states: "Thanks to a strong performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and smart direction from Denis Villeneuve, Enemy hits the mark as a tense, uncommonly adventurous thriller."[14] The film also has a score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 26 reviews, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[15] A.O. Scott, movie critic for the New York Times, wrote: "In any case, much of the fun in “Enemy,” which is tightly constructed and expertly shot, lies in Mr. Gyllenhaal’s playful and subtle performances... Its style is alluring and lurid, a study in hushed tones and yellowy hues, with jolts of anxiety provided by loud, scary music." [16] Enemy was also praised by David Ehrlich of Film.com for having "the scariest ending of any film ever made."[17]

Enemy opened in a single theater in North America and grossed $16,161. The widest release for the film was 120 theaters and it ended up earning $1,008,726 domestically and $2,388,721 internationally for a total of $3,397,447.[2]


  1. ^ "Enemy (2013)". IMDb. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Enemy (2014) - Box Office Mojo". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Enemy (2014) - International Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini join Jake Gyllenhaal on An Enemy". Screendaily.com. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Enemy". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "Enemy - Review". Canadian Film Review. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Canadian Screen Awards: Orphan Black, Less Than Kind, Enemy nominated". CBC News, 13 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Denis Villeneuve's Enemy is Toronto Film Critics' top Canadian pick". CBC News, 6 January 2015.
  9. ^ Review: Denis Villeneuve's Terrifically Haunting 'Enemy' Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist, Indiewire, 13 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  10. ^ a b c 'Enemy' Director on Jake Gyllenhaal's Identical Characters: 'It's Maybe Two Sides of the Same Persona'. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  11. ^ a b Jake Gyllenhaal interview: The Enemy star on why he is so committed to complicated characters. Jamie Graham, The Independent, 2 January 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  12. ^ Interview: Jake Gyllenhaal Talks The Duality Of 'Enemy' And Why He Wants You To Be Confused, Alex Suskind, The Playlist, Indiewire, 11 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  13. ^ a b Forrest Wickman, What Should We Make of Enemy’s Shocking Ending?, Slate, 14 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Enemy (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Enemy Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "When Your Twin Is Far More Interesting". New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "TIFF Review: 'Enemy'". Film.com. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 

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