With its arrival on US Netflix, many audiences want the Enemy movie explained. So, let’s begin to untangle the film’s numerous webs.
It’s interesting to note just how many people argue that Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy is the only film they can think of in recent memory that has actually scared them.
This mind-bending psychological thriller isn’t, obviously, some traditional horror film packed with things going bump in the night. Nevertheless, it is horrifying.
Majority audiences have widely accepted that the 52-year-old French Canadian filmmaker is one of the new masters of cinema; no matter what genre he tackles, we’re interested.
Across the 2010s he achieved awe-inspiring status with the likes of Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.
After his sequel to Ridley Scott’s beloved tech-noir masterpiece, he arguably did the impossible, striking gold with a sequel next to nobody thought was a good idea.
All of these films have been celebrated, but in 2013, he divided….
Enemy on Netflix
Denis’ 2013 film Enemy is now available on US Netflix and those seeing it for the first time are shocked, to say the least.
It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam Bell, a college history professor who discovers his uncanny double in a film he’s watching. Inevitably, he sets out to find this man, but nothing is as it seems.
As we reach the final shot, it’s as though we’ve been chewed over and over then spat out, shaking and sat there desperately trying to make sense of the puzzle put before us.
So, let’s try to do just that.
Netflix: Enemy movie explained
Firstly, it’s worth addressing that there are different ways of interpreting the film – that’s what makes it so exciting to return to.
However, let’s highlight the most popular meaning which audiences have taken from Enemy.
We have Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) who discovers his double, Anthony (Jake Gyllenhaal), an actor who he sees in a movie. They meet, but in fact, they are the same person, both individually made up from conflicting personality traits.
To make things easier to explain, let’s say that Anthony is our protagonist here and Adam essentially helps represents his fear of commitment and routine. This where the spiders (in part) come in, as the mise en scene with the city appearing to be a web he’s caught in emphasising how trapped he feels.
Essentially, Anthony’s aspirations of becoming an actor and meeting other women is pushed out by the pressure of being a sensible and rational partner/provider. It’s this duality which provides the film it’s conflict; which will emerge, Anthony or Adam?
We learn throughout the film that our protagonist has had affairs in the past but he succeeds in metaphorically killing off his inquisitive and toxic traits in the form of his “double”… or did he?
In the end, he returns home to find that his wife is a giant spider. He still feels trapped and won’t stop imagining this other life for himself; the grin of acknowledgement suggests he knows he’s doomed to repeat his ways.
It’s interesting to note the actions of the spider in juxtaposition with the earlier sex show scene. The giant spider is shying away from our protagonist to avoid being stepped on.
There is another theory, mind…
Enemy movie explained: Spiders are everywhere
Although this theory doesn’t work quite as well as the last, it’s still an interesting way to read the film.
Rather than viewing the spiderwebs as a metaphor for our character’s fear of being trapped in a life of monotony and commitment in relationships, viewing women as spiders, let’s say they’re actually real for a moment.
As Slate puts it: “It’s an Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie in which you don’t even realize it’s an Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie until the end.”
The webs across the city and throughout the mise en scene suggest who’s really in control and the spiders are used to convey what it’s like to live under a totalitarian state.
There are a number of small details which help reinforce this theory, especially the lectures we hear within the film. However, deep down we feel that this is one of the most creative and unique films which takes aim at the fear of commitment and routine, better exemplified by the earlier theory.
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