Tag Archive: Enemy


Everest – Movie Review

Mount Everest rises at over 29,000 feet above sea level and has claimed approximately 240 lives. It’s one of the most dangerous places on earth and only the most experienced of climbers are able to make it to the mountain’s peak. “Human beings simply aren’t built to function at the cruising alititudes of a seven-forty-seven,” says Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) early on in Everest. After watching the film, viewers will understand just how true this statement is. Based on the true story of the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster, Everest is a survival thriller that takes place almost entirely on earth’s highest peak. Director Baltasar Kormákur and a huge cast of great actors bring this story convincingly to life. There are a number of intense scenes scattered throughout and the overall product is largely satisfying, but the film is never able to rise to the level of greatness that this kind of story would lend itself to. It’s still quite good, although one can’t help but wonder how much better it could have been with a few more memorable sequences.

Despite being one of the most dangerous places on earth, several companies have begun operating commercial climbs that take clients up to the top of the mountain. One of the leaders of these operations is Rob Hall, an experienced climber who has made it to the top of the mountain several times. This year, his cliental include a Texan (Josh Brolin), a mailman (John Hawkes), a journalist (Michael Kelly) documenting the climb and a woman (Naoko Mori) who is attempting to climb the last of the Seven Summits. Hall receives help from Helen Wilton (Emily Watson), the manager back at base camp and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), another group leader. Climbing to the top is never easy, but when a large storm begins to descend on the mountain, it becomes clear that climbing down the mountain might be the most difficult part.

This story had previously been adapted into a made-for-television film based on Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book Into Thin Air and while I have not seen that film, I think it’s safe to say that Everest is the best dramatization of this harrowing and heartbreaking tale. In fact, this might just be the best Mount Everest film ever produced, which is more a testament to the surprising lack of films that take place on the mountain than the overall quality of this film. But that’s not to say that the film doesn’t earn its merits, because it almost certainly does. Salvatore Totino’s cinematography does an excellent job at contrasting our characters against the beautiful, snowy landscapes and director Baltasar Kormákur successfully makes it look like these actors are actually climbing to the top of the world. There was a mix between shooting on location in actual mountains and shooting inside on a closed set. For the most part, this mix works well, as there was only one shot in the film that I thought looked suspiciously like a Hollywood set.

Also aiding Kormákur in creating a believable environment is the great cast. It may be a weird observation, but the cast does a great job at looking cold. As they climb higher and higher onto Everest, the weather only gets worse and the many performances in the film make it clear just how brutal the environment is. You witness them violently shiver and shake as they attempt to breathe in enough oxygen to stay alive. Jason Clarke does a solid job leading the cast, bringing a warm sense of authority to his character that makes you believe why people would trust him with their safety. Josh Brolin is perfectly cast as a rich, thrill-seeking Texan and many of the film’s best scenes focus on him. John Hawkes is excellent in the film, effectively building an emotional arc out of the few meaty scenes that he’s been given. As the easy-going Scott Fischer, Jake Gyllenhaal gives a solid performance; it’s certainly not as great as his recent performances in films like Nightcrawler and Enemy, but it doesn’t need to be. The women in the film don’t receive nearly as much screen time as the men, but Emily Watson and Keira Knightley deliver fantastic emotional performances regardless.

There are a few moments of great tension, including a scene where Brolin’s character almost stumbles off of a ladder and into a ravine, but the film lacks the drive that you would expect from a story like this. It seems to take a bit too long for their climb to experience trouble and once the trouble hits, it doesn’t seem to build into enough truly exciting sequences. There’s also an attempt at a huge emotional payoff at the end that falls flat because most of the characters are underdeveloped. But even with these problems, Everest is a solid watch because of its beautiful frigid locations and the unique look at an Everest expedition. If the filmmakers were trying to make a monumental film, they failed. Still, this is far from a colossal disappointment.

Everest receives 3/4

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My 2015 Oscar Predictions

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Will Win: Boyhood

Should Win: Whiplash

Snubbed: Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler, Gone Girl

– 

Best Director

Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Will Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Should Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Snubbed: Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

Best Actor

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper – American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Michael Keaton – Birdman

Should Win: Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Snubbed: Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Will Win: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Should Win: Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Snubbed: Shailene Woodley – The Fault in our Stars

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall – The Judge

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Will Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Should Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Snubbed: Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Laura Dern – Wild

Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game

Emma Stone – Birdman

Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Will Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Should Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Snubbed: Rene Russo – Nightcrawler

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo

Boyhood – Richard Linklater

Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Will Win: Birdman – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo

Should Win: Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Snubbed: Locke – Steven Knight

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper – Jason Hall

The Imitation Game – Graham Moore

Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson

The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Will Win: The Imitation Game – Graham Moore

Should Win: Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Snubbed: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Best Animated Film

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2 I guess, but I honestly don’t care

Snubbed: The Lego Movie, obviously

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida

Leviathan

Tangerines

Timbuktu

Wild Tales

Will Win: Ida

Should Win: Out of all the nominees, I’ve only seen Ida. So Ida, I guess.

Snubbed: The Raid 2

Best Documentary

Citizenfour

Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth

Virunga

Will Win: Citizenfour

Should Win: Virunga

Snubbed: The Overnighters

Best Score

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat

The Imitation Game – Alexandre Desplat

Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

Mr. Turner – Gary Yershon

The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Will Win: The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Should Win: Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

Snubbed: Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Best Original Song

“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

“Glory” from Selma

“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

Will Win: “Glory” from Selma

Should Win: “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

Snubbed: “I’ll get you what you Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” from Muppets Most Wanted

Best Sound Editing

American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Birdman – Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Brent Burge and Jason Canovas

Interstellar – Richard King

Unbroken – Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

Will Win: American Sniper

Should Win: Interstellar

Snubbed: Fury

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin

Birdman – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga

Interstellar – Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten

Unbroken – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee

Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Will Win: American Sniper

Should Win: Whiplash

Snubbed: Fury

Best Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock

The Imitation Game – Maria Djurkovic , Tatiana Macdonald

Interstellar – Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis

Into the Woods – Dennis Gassner,  Anna Pinnock

Mr. Turner – Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Snubbed: Snowpiercer

Best Cinematography

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman

Ida – Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski

Mr. Turner – Dick Pope

Unbroken – Roger Deakins

Will Win: Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Should Win: Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Snubbed: Enemy – Nicolas Bolduc

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher – Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier

Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Will Win: Foxcatcher

Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Snubbed: Snowpiercer

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero

Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges

Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood

Maleficent – Anna B. Sheppard

Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Snubbed: Edge of Tomorrow, as long as the exo-suits count as costumes

Best Editing

American Sniper – Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

Boyhood – Sandra Adair

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling

The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg

Whiplash – Tom Cross

Will Win: Boyhood

Should Win: Whiplash

Snubbed: Gone Girl

Best Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist

Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould

Interstellar – Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Will Win: Interstellar

Should Win: Interstellar

Snubbed: Godzilla

My Oscars 2015

The 87th Academy Awards are taking place this Sunday and it’s easily the biggest night of the year that Hollywood has to offer. Some great talent is sure to be honored, but I’m also sure that the Academy will fail to honor some of the more worthy individuals. Since I am not a member of the Academy and can’t actually choose who gets to take home the gold on Sunday, I decided to create my own awards. They may not be quite as prestigious as the Oscars, but maybe some of this year’s nominees will appreciate the praise that I’m giving them. Agree with my choices? What categories would you do differently? Let me know in the comments below!

Best Director

Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

David Fincher – Gone Girl

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Denis Villeneuve – Enemy

Best Actor

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Tom Hardy – Locke

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

Scarlett Johannson – Under the Skin

Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Shailene Woodley – The Fault in our Stars

Best Supporting Actor

Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Carrie Coon – Gone Girl

Rene Russo – Nightcrawler

Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Naomi Watts – Birdman

Best Original Screenplay

Calvary – John Michael McDonagh

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness

Locke – Steven Knight

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Best Adapted Screenplay

Enemy – Javier Gullón

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson

Under the Skin – Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer

Wild – Nick Hornby

Best Cinematography

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Enemy – Nicolas Bolduc

Foxcatcher – Greig Fraser

Gone Girl – Jeff Cronenweth

Interstellar – Hoyte Van Hoytema

Best Original Score

Enemy – Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans

Godzilla – Alexandre Desplat

Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Best Original Song

“Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

“Glory” from Selma

“I’ll get you what you Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” from Muppets Most Wanted

“Split the Difference” from Boyhood

“Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

 

Best Editing

Boyhood – Sandra Adair

Gone Girl – Kirk Baxter

Interstellar – Lee Smith

The Raid 2 – Gareth Evans

Whiplash – Tom Cross

Best Production Design

Exodus: Gods and Kings – Arthur Max

Foxcatcher – Jess Gonchor

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen

Interstellar – Nathan Crowley

Snowpiercer – Ondrej Nekvasil

Best Sound

The Babadook – Frank Lipson

Edge of Tomorrow – James Boyle and Dominic Gibbs

Fury – Paul N.J. Ottosson

Godzilla – Erik Aadahl, David Alvarez and Ethan Van der Ryn

Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten and Richard King

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

My Top Ten Films of 2014

Best of 2014

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order): 22 Jump Street, Calvary, Edge of Tomorrow, Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy, Inherent Vice, Interstellar, John Wick, The Lego Movie, The One I Love, The Raid 2, Under the Skin, X-Men Days of Future Past

  1. The Guest – Any of my honorable mentions could have made their way into my number 10 slot, but I ended up choosing Adam Wingard’s hugely satisfying thriller, The Guest. It’s a story about a naïve family who open up their home to a total stranger, only to discover that this man is not as innocent as he seems. Like Wingard’s past efforts, it’s nothing more than a genre exercise, but it’s one that feels uniquely fresh and entertaining. With great performances, slick action and an awesome soundtrack, The Guest feels like a throwback to some of the more ridiculous action films of the 80s, while also managing to mix in its own modern sensibilities.
  1. LockeLocke is 85 minutes of Tom Hardy driving a car and talking on a phone. That’s it. Writer/director Steven Knight has somehow taken a gimmicky premise and used it to provide a wholly realized portrait of man who is simply trying to make the right decisions in his life. The character of Locke is forced to deal with the complications of a concrete pour, while also recovering from the confession of his infidelity to his wife. Attempting to supervise a concrete pour over the phone may not sound exciting and when the movie first begins, it isn’t. But as we begin to learn more about who Locke is and why he’s choosing to make these decisions, every aspect of his life becomes more and more fascinating. This is really a film that gets better and better as the film progresses and it’s all because of the slow development of Locke’s character and Tom Hardy’s incredible performance. Locke is a simple story, told in a unique and daring fashion.
  1. Fury – A profile of five men operating a tank in the European Theater of WWII, Fury is thoroughly gripping from start to finish. The action sequences are intense, well-directed and manage to separate themselves from the pack of other WWII movies with their focus on tank warfare. The film is bloody, brutal and none of the characters ever feel safe from the onslaught of enemy fire. A sequence that pits four American tanks against a superior German tank is shocking and exciting, as is the climactic standoff where our squad must battle an entire battalion of SS Nazi soldiers. But the action is worthless if you don’t care about the characters, so director David Ayer makes sure that each tank member has a distinctive personality. A highlight of the film is an extended sequence where Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman’s characters play house with two young German women. It’s a break in the action, but it goes to show how desperate these men are to receive some semblance of normalcy within the consistent chaos that they’re exposed to day after day. By making the war seem legitimately scary, Fury earns its place alongside all the great WWII movies.
  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to deny that Wes Anderson has developed a style that’s uniquely his own. With The Grand Budapest Hotel, he’s crafted his most beautiful looking film. Thanks to incredible set direction and production design, practically every frame of the film is a visual wonder. You could watch it with the sound off and still be entertained, but then you would be missing out on the engaging story and sharp dialogue that add another layer of beauty to the film. Aided by a great cast, Anderson has crafted a hugely entertaining tale that works as a remembrance for passed down stories and an affinity for days gone by. Viewers willing to check into this film are sure to enjoy their stay.
  1. Enemy – A surreal and provocative mindbender that’s as frightening as any horror film released this year, Enemy is an intricately plotted thriller that demands multiple viewings. From the opening shot to the final frame, it’s a film that will hold its viewers in a near constant state of suspense. Director Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to last year’s Prisoners proves that he’s a master at holding viewers on the edge. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a great two-sided performance and the grim cinematography from Nicolas Bolduc effectively provides the feeling that something just isn’t quite right in this world. Speaking of things not being quite right, the ending is a real shocker that ranks up there with the best of this year. Viewers accustomed to having every plot detail spoon fed to them should look elsewhere; this is a film that will lead to questions, interpretations and conversations. Sometimes, that’s the best kind of cinema.
  1. Boyhood – Shot intermittently from May 2002 to October 2013, Boyhood chronicles the life of a young boy named Mason from ages 6 to 18. It’s an incredible production story, but the film transcends this potential gimmick with fully realized characters, heartfelt moments and interesting themes that most coming of age films don’t even attempt to tackle. Never before has a film so expertly captured what it’s like to live in the 21st century. Everything from the clothes, to the hairstyles, to the vernacular feels authentic with the time period because each scene was filmed in its respective year. Decades from now, people will look back on this film as an authentic snapshot of life in the early 21st century. The amount of things that could have gone wrong with director Richard Linklater’s ambitious project are endless, but somehow everything came together to create a true piece of art that is as beautiful and moving as any motion picture can be. Linklater’s naturalistic direction keeps things poetically simple and eleven years of footage leads to an ending that is breathtaking in how it says so much by saying so little. This is surely one of the most realistic films ever made, but it’s also one of the most magical. I’ve never seen anything quite like Boyhood.
  1. Gone Girl – Adapated from Gillian Flynn’s entertaining page-turner of the same name, Gone Girl is a harrowing mystery that’s engrossing from start to finish. Fans of the source material will be pleased at the faithfulness of this adaptation, while new viewers will be absolutely floored by some of the twists and turns that this movie takes. Not only is it a great thriller, but it’s also a great satire of modern relationships and marriages. The extreme, heightened scenario that these characters are placed in may be rare, but the actions that they take while in this strange scenario are simply exaggerations of what many people do while in a marriage. Couples lie to each other, pretend to be someone else and struggle for power. These characters are written as hyperbolic exaggerations for a reason. Director David Fincher once again proves that he’s a master behind the camera, crafting a film that never lets up throughout its extended runtime. Not only does it rank right up there with his best work, but it’s also one of the most wholly satisfying thrillers to come out in years.
  1. Nightcrawler – A brilliant satire of modern news and the cutthroat business world, Nightcrawler is a startlingly accomplished directorial debut from Dan Gilroy. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers the best performance of 2013 and crafts a totally unique and interesting character in the process. Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom is a total sociopath, willing to put anybody into danger as long as it will get him further ahead. He wants to achieve success and he absolutely does not care how he gets there. Gyllenhaal reportedly lost 20 pounds for the role and Bloom’s gaunt physique and long hair only add to his uncomfortable persona. The script by Gilroy also offers plenty of dark humor that may catch some viewers off guard. Gyllenhaal’s character is so loathsome that you almost have to laugh at all of the horrible acts he’s willing to commit. All of these acts culminate in a fantastically directed final action sequence, one that continues to shock even after you think it could go no further. It’s a film that’s full of surprises and feels like a breath of fresh air in the occasionally mundane cinematic landscape.
  1. Foxcatcher – If you’re looking for a feel-good film to boost your spirits and morale, then I must warn you to stay far, far away from Foxcatcher. Here is a sports film with all of the happiness sucked out of it, which is then replaced by an ever mounting sense of dread and scenarios so disturbing that they’re borderline horror movie territory. But what makes this film scarier than most is that it’s completely true. In his best film to date, director Bennett Miller has crafted a true-life tale that’s as haunting as a quiet nightmare. Miller is aided by a fascinating script and three transformative performances from Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. Aided by some extensive makeup work, Carell’s performance as the wealthy John du Pont is a true standout and the character that he embodies lingers long after the film has ended. It’s a thematically rich film about tragedy, loneliness, the obsession to achieve greatness, and the idea that the wealthiest people in America can use their money to buy whatever kind of life they desire. In just his fourth feature film, Bennett Miller has created a true work of art that is nothing short of astounding.
  1. Whiplash – Sometimes the best thing about movies is their ability to surprise you. Before I saw Whiplash, I would have never imagined that it would end up being my favorite film of 2014. Now, over two months since I originally saw it, my love for the film has only continued to grow. This tale of a maniacal jazz conductor and the young student that he chooses to inflict his wrath upon is intense and undeniably powerful. This isn’t a heartfelt story of a teacher encouraging a student to do his best; it’s a story of a harmful relationship between an abuser and an abusee. Director Damien Chazelle’s directing is tight and spot-on, while his script smartly explores the idea of wanting to achieve something regardless of the cost. Miles Teller delivers an extremely physical performance as we watch him bang on the drum set until his hands are bloody, while J.K. Simmons creates one of the most vicious, ruthless, disturbing and downright evil characters to appear in a movie in quite some time. All of this builds to a final sequence that is equal parts shocking and exhilarating. Just as the film appears to veer towards a fairly obvious ending, the rug is pulled out from underneath us with a truly surprising reveal. Chazelle manages to find an ending that is neither completely uplifting nor completely upsetting and entirely avoids the schmaltz that is typically associated with similar films. It’s more frightening that any horror film I’ve seen in years and one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences that I’ve ever had. With taut direction, amazing performances and an infectiously toe-tapping jazz soundtrack, this is sure to blow away your expectations, just like it did mine. Whiplash is, without a doubt, the best film of the year.

Enemy – Movie Review

Living in a small town can make it difficult to see all of the movies that I want. I had been looking forward to Enemy for quite a while, but the film only had a modest release and never opened at any theaters near me. When it was finally released on Blu-ray, I knew that I would be picking it up on day one because I was unable to see it in theaters. But, surprisingly, I couldn’t find a single Blu-Ray copy of Enemy at any of the stores that I checked. I ultimately had to buy the Blu-Ray online and have it shipped to my house. I’m bringing this up because I wanted to explain how difficult it was for me to finally see this movie. Granted, a film as provocative and surreal as this will probably never receive a widespread theatrical release, but the fact that I couldn’t find it at any stores near me is ridiculous. I probably wouldn’t have cared about this quite so much if the film ended up disappointing me, but not only were my expectations met, they were beyond exceeded. Enemy is a fascinating mindbender of a movie, one that manages to be suspenseful and engaging throughout its entire runtime and extremely thought provoking once the credits begin to roll. Viewers accustomed to having every plot detail spoon fed to them should look elsewhere; this is a film that will lead to questions, interpretations and conversations. Sometimes, that’s the best kind of cinema.

Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a college history professor who is leading a dull life. His relationship with his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent) seems to be lacking any excitement and the majority of his free time is spent in his standard looking apartment. Adam rents a movie based off of the recommendation of a coworker and spots an actor who looks exactly like him in a small role. Adam does some digging and discovers that this doppelganger is named Anthony Claire. Adam begins following Anthony and even calling his home, much to the dismay of Anthony’s pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon). But once Anthony learns of the striking similarity that these two share, the two men agree to meet face to face and discover exactly what is happening.

From the opening shot to the final frame, Enemy held me in a near constant state of suspense. I spent the entire movie with the feeling that I was holding my breath, just waiting for what the filmmakers had in store for me. Director Denis Villeneuve’s previous film Prisoners was one of my favorite films of 2013. Enemy was actually filmed prior to Prisoners, but the short amount of time between their release dates provides a solid one-two punch for fans of intelligent adult cinema while also  proving that Villeneuve is a master at holding viewers on the edge. In fact, the constant feeling that something bad could happen at any moment actually makes this scarier than most modern horror movies. The final scene is a real shocker, one that caused me to actually scream out in fear when an absolutely unforgettable image is revealed. Tone and atmosphere are a major component to the film and the music by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is suitably unsettling enough to make the audience feel like insects are crawling on their skin. The grim cinematography by Nicolas Bolduc is unique because of its yellowish tint, but also effective at providing the feeling that something just isn’t quite right in this world.

It’s so refreshing to see a movie that isn’t just a straightforward tale, but one that requires thought and analysis from its audience. Some people think that when a film leaves its audience with unanswered questions, it’s simply being lazy; I would argue that these types of films are actually some of the most difficult to make. There will always be some outcry when a film refuses to neatly wrap up and explain every loose end, but the key is to give viewers just enough information so that they can ascribe their own meaning to the clues that have been provided. Movies like this one don’t come around often and it’s even rarer for them to be executed so well. Thanks to Javier Gullón’s intriguing script, this is one of the best open ended psychological thrillers since 2012’s Kill List. Gullón’s screenplay is adapted from the novel The Double by Portuguese author José Saramago.  One of the most memorable aspects of the film is actually new to the story and completely absent from the original novel. These new scenes turn a dark psychological mystery into a much more surreal experience. I’m not going to pretend to understand all of the mysteries that the film has to offer, but I do think that I have a basic understanding of the symbolism and metaphors that are present and they only help to add another layer of depth to this already riveting film. Some viewers will be outraged with the ending, but I loved how it was able to flip the entire film on its head in the final few seconds. I can’t wait to go back and further unravel this puzzle.

It must have been tempting for Gyllenhaal to oversell both of the characters that he portrays. To turn them into caricatures would have been an easy way to differentiate between the two, but Gyllenhaal never overdoes things. The differences between Adam and Anthony are subtle: they look and sound exactly alike, so it’s up to Gyllenhaal to help the audience understand who is who at all times. Adam is meek, shy and socially awkward, while Anthony is strong, confident and sexually indulgent. It’s always apparent which character Gyllenhaal is playing and both characters feel real enough to exist on their own. In these two quietly compelling performances, Gyllenhaal never screams for attention, but he deserves it just the same.

Are Adam and Anthony both real? Is one of these characters a figment of the other’s imagination? What was going on in that final scene? Enemy never provides any direct answers to these questions, but instead it asks viewers to piece together their own interpretations. The clues are there, hidden in a web of mystery and intrigue and whether the viewer feels the need to think about things enough to put everything together is entirely up to them. These kinds of movies have always fascinated me; I love how they force you to think once the credits begin to roll. Future viewings will surely be helpful in understanding some of the more abstract elements of the film and I’ve been wanting to revisit it again as soon as my initial viewing ended. Enemy certainly isn’t for everyone, but that’s not going to stop me from showing it to as many people as I possibly can.

Enemy receives 4/4