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Originally published Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM

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‘Enemy’: odd, moody and unexpected

A three-star review of “Enemy,” an intriguing psychological thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal.




Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Enemy,’ with Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, from a screenplay by Javier Gullón, based on the novel “The Double” by José Saramago. 90 minutes. Rated R for some strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Sundance, Uptown.

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Gray clouds, dark apartments, a sleepwalking life seemingly reduced to gloomy shades of beige and sickly yellow — this is the world of “Enemy,” Denis Villeneuve’s moody, intriguing and, yes, occasionally silly psychological thriller. In it, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a dual role: a depressed history professor named Adam and a not-very-successful actor named Anthony, each of whom is shocked to learn of the existence of his look-alike double. Things are never, however, what they seem in this film, and Adam and Anthony soon begin to blend together, in ways both unexpected and absurd.

“Chaos is order yet undeciphered,” reads a screen title at its start (a quote from José Saramago, on whose novel “The Double” the film is based); it’s fair warning.

But “Enemy” is less about its plot than its mood; about the way the harsh concrete buildings of Adam/Anthony’s world seem to be amassing for battle, and how the characters never seem to be entirely awake, as if their flat lives were crushing them. (Adam’s apartment, where he can’t be bothered to turn the lights on, is so blank it’s almost surreal.) A movie-within-the-movie — and the sudden, vivid presence of Isabella Rossellini later on — gives “Enemy” a short-lived jolt of color; disturbing dreams and haunting images of spiders interrupt Adam’s flat existence.

The film’s final, sudden shot is a knockout, and one that viewers will discuss for a while afterward. Who, exactly, is the enemy here? This odd, unexpected film occasionally frustrates but never bores.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com



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