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Film / Enemy

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"Chaos is order yet undeciphered."

Enemy is a 2013 surrealist psychological neo noir thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and adapted from the novel The Double by José Saramago.

The film chiefly concerns a history professor named Adam Bell, who lives a normal, quiet life in Toronto, Canada. One night, however, as Bell sits down and watches a film he has rented on a recommendation from a colleague, Where There's a Will There's a Way, he spots an actor who looks exactly like himself briefly playing a bellhop in a scene. Seriously shaken by the uncanny experience, Bell attempts to track down the actor, a man whose name is Anthony Claire and who has only appeared in two bit roles...

Then things get strange. Really, really strange.

A film with a very similar premise, The Double, was released the same year, a black comedy based on another novel named The Double, though written by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Has no connection to the 2015 Roguelike of the same name.

This series provides examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: Due to the ambiguous nature of the story, it's not clear whether the events are happening in the order we see them. This holds particularly true if Adam and Anthony are indeed the same person. Sequences that cut back and forth between them might not be happening concurrently as the editing implies.
  • Animal Motifs: Spiders. All over the place.
  • Bed Trick: Adam and Anthony both impersonate each other, thus winding up having sex with the other's girlfriend/wife respectively.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Happens repeatedly, which isn't surprising when one sees what scary crap the protagonist is dreaming.
  • Color Wash: There's a brownish-yellow cast across the entire film.
  • Downer Ending: Considering the theory that the spiders in the film represent Adam's view of women and committed relationships, Helen becoming a giant spider in response to him planning to go to the crush club is him finally giving up on attempting to see his wife as anything but a hinderence to his own hedonism.
  • Fan Disservice: In one of Adam's dreams, he walks along a corridor and passes a naked, well-built woman that's approaching from the opposite direction. What sounds titillating in theory is actually anything but because that woman is walking on the ceiling and has a spider's head instead of a human's. Unsurprisingly, Adam suffers a less than pleasant awakening.
  • Gainax Ending: Adam staring resignedly at a room-sized tarantula that has seemingly taken the place of Helen. What's especially strange is that the spider doesn't look like it's going to attack Adam or anything, nor does Adam appear to feel in danger. There's just a human-sized spider in his bedroom and he almost looks like he was expecting it to be there.
  • Giant Spider: At one point, we see one looming high over the city, as shown in the poster. Its significance is never explained.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Although implications are plentiful, it's never made clear why Adam and Anthony look identical.
  • Jump Scare: The sudden revelation of Helen being replaced with a spider in the end has been known to startle audiences.
  • Mind Screw: What the entire movie amounts to.
  • No Ending: Adam walks into Helen's room and finds that she has been replaced by a massive spider. He stares at her for a few seconds, then sighs. Cut to black.
  • Retraux: Where There's A Will, There's A Way has the visual style of a film from the 1960s, and appears to be set around that time as well. This is despite Anthony appearing in it.
  • Rule 34: The sex show that Adam (or Anthony) attends at the beginning of the film includes a woman in high heels about to step on a tarantula. This is a real fetish, called "crush."
  • Separated at Birth: Discussed as one possibility for Adam and Anthony's being doubles. Both Adam and Anthony's mother deny it, however (they also possess the same scar, something identical twins would not have, unless synchronization is in play).
  • Show Within a Show: Where There's A Will, There's A Way.
  • Spiders Are Scary:
    • Spiders are a recurring theme, including the tarantulas in the beginning, the gigantic spider striding through a cityscape in a dream, a woman with the head of a spider in another dream, and the enormous tarantula that replaces Helen in the end.
    • In the penultimate scene, we're treated to a slow zoom on the window of Anthony and Mary's crashed car, cracked in a distinct spider-web pattern.
  • Spot the Imposter: Anthony's wife suspects briefly that Adam isn't her husband, but dismisses it, though it's implied she might actually recognize him after all, and simply prefers him to her increasingly unstable and serial cheater husband. Adam's girlfriend, meanwhile, realizes who Anthony is. This leads to both of their deaths.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: One popular interpretation of the film is that it takes place mostly in Adam's head, with Anthony being a symptom of his delusions.
  • The Unreveal: The exact reason for Adam and Anthony's being doubles is never explained.
  • Wham Shot: The last scene where Adam goes into the room to find Helen, only to see a really huge spider.