Last night I watched the 2013 Denis Villeneuve masterpiece Enemy and upon the first watch I, like almost everyone who have seen this movie had only one thought “what the fuck was that?”, I could have just left it at that I usually like films with less explanations and exposure but I felt like this one deserved some more thought so I decided to write an analyse of the film based on what I think the film was about and I thought this could make a nice blog post and I end up putting it up here, before we go any further please note that this film has been explained to death by many film buffs and I am not reinventing the wheel here it is simply my take on the film and the meaning behind its mysterious story, also if you don’t already know spoilers ahead don’t continue reading if you haven’t watched the film, got all that? ok lets go.
before everything I would like to give some context to the characters and to simplify the rest of the post I will give each one of them a name that will ease things further :
- Adam Bell played by Jake Gyllenhall is a history teacher who is living a repetitive and boring life, he has a girlfriend and lives in an empty apartment, hence forward I will refer to him as “The Teacher”
- Anthony Claire also played by Jake Gyllenhall is a third grade actor who appears in small roles in some movies, he lives a good life with his pregnant wife and seems to be unfaithful to her, I will refer to him as “The Actor”
- Mary played by Mélanie Laurent is The Teacher’s girlfriend I will refer to her as The Girlfriend.
- Helen Claire is The Actor’s wife and I will refer to her as The Wife
- Isabella Rossellini who is Adam Bell’s mother will be known as Mother.
Plot : the film stars with a voice male message from Mother to The Teacher telling him that she is not happy with his apartment then we see a private club where men get to watch women perform some acts of sexual nature looks to be a very exclusive one, and then we get to see The Teacher give a lecture about dictatorship and how they just want control and then we see him meeting his girlfriend in his apartment and after they had sex the girlfriend leaves as if she wasn’t satisfied with the sex and The teacher is left in disappointment then the same day repeats its self and ends with the girlfriend’s disappointment in The teacher’s sexual ability, in another scene another teacher recommends a movie to The teacher and when he sees it he notices one of the actors look exactly like him, then he goes on a series of investigation on the internet and finds the The Actor’s agency and when he gets there the doorman greets him as if he knows him and we find out that he hasn’t been there for over Six months then he gets an envelope that is addressed to The actor with his name and number on it, he calls the actor’s house and the wife picks up and thinks that he is playing a joke on her, later we get to see them and she seems to be confused by that action, then we get another scene where The Teacher finally calls The Actor and confronts him and he hangs up after another call he asks him to meet up, when he hangs up we get a conversation between The Actor and The Wife about who was on the phone and she asks him “if he is seeing her again“, then the wife visits the school where the teacher works and he asks her how long she has been pregnant and she says Six Months when he goes back inside she calls him and as soon as disappears in front of us he picks up the phone, later The teacher and The Actor meet in a hotel room and they are both very surprised of how much they look alike freaking The Teacher out and he goes to his mother and tells her this even and she tells him “He has a good apartment, a good job, he should drop this actor fantasy and not meet strange men in hotel rooms since he already has enough trouble sticking with one woman” later the actor comes to where The teacher lives and accuses him of sleeping with his wife and makes a deal with him in order for them to get even The actor will take his girlfriend on a date and when he is done with her he will disappear in his life, as he leaves with her The Teacher goes to The Actor’s building, the doorman asks him if he can help him to get back into the private club that we saw at the beginning because they have changed the Locks and he hasn’t received a new Key and he tells him that he will do what he can, later the wife and the teacher sleep in the same bed and the wife asks him about what happened in school, the actor and the girlfriend have sex and she stops because she sees the sunburn mark on his hand where his wedding ring was, the actor and the girlfriend get into a huge fight after she tells him he is not a man and crash the car and both die, the teacher and the wife start to have sex and she tells him that she wants him to come home and stay and he agrees to it, lastly The Teacher finds the envelope he got in the talent agency that was addressed to The Actor and opens it to find a Key to the Private club, he tells his wife he has to go out tonight and he goes to the bedroom to find her turned to a giant spider, and we get one last shot of his face as he accepts what is happening.
if that is not a massive Mind-Fuck I don’t know what it is.
My Take : it is my understanding that this movie is all about one guy who is a history teacher and married to The Wife and he also have a dream to become an actor, when he stars as an actor he has a shitty apartment and his mother who seems to be a wealthy woman calls him and tells him how she is worried about his living situation, he pursue his teaching life even though it makes him miserable and he gets married and cheats on his wife on many occasion because he cannot commit to a single woman, but as soon as she gets pregnant he completely loses his mind and starts to have an affair with The Girlfriend in his old apartment but due to his emotional state he fails sexual every time, he stops going to the talent agency completely when his wife gets pregnant that is why I highlighted Six Months note that it is the same length, later when he breaks it off with the girlfriend he kills his unfaithful part in his mind with the girlfriend and goes back to his wife again, we do get that in the mother’s conversation she basically tells him what is happening in his mind, but after all that when he gets a new key to the sex club his unfaithful side takes over again and comes back to life. during one of his lectures he mentions a Karl Marx and Hagel quote about all the great world events happening twice, the reason why we see him accepting the giant spider that his wife has turned into at the end is because of that, the same events of the movie is happening again and this time he is accepting it. now lets address the Spiders I want you to understand there are no Spiders in this film it is a metaphors, our protagonist who is troubled with women in his life controlling him from his mom shutting down his dreams and his wife asking him to settle down and not do what he likes to do he starts to see women as spiders, Spiders put their prays in a web before they eat it and he is seeing them as that and in the end when he sees his wife turned into a spider probably because she was disapproving of him going out that night and instead of that the film maker decided to show us a giant spider, and our protagonist accepted his fate.
there you have it, my take on Enemy. oh and one last thing, who is Enemy you might ask? it is him, he is his own enemy.