I actually saw this movie two weeks ago and have been trying to think of what to write about it ever since. It’s not that Enemy is a bad movie, per se, it’s just that I found it very hard to engage with, and at the end of it I didn’t have much of an opinion about it, which made writing about it kind of daunting.
The set up for Enemy has a lot of potential: a man rents a movie on a vague recommendation from a coworker only to discover that in the film there is an actor who has his exact face. The man researches his doppleganger and decides to get into contact with him. When they met they find that that they are completely identical but neither one of them knows how that could be possible. Once their lives begin to intersect their sanity begins to unravel.
There is a certain dream-logic to the scenario, and Enemy nails a dream-like tone. But the problem with telling a dream story is that for every person who swears that dreams reveal something deep / true, there will be another person that will say that while dreams can be entertaining they are ultimately just a meaningless brain-dump. A story-teller should theoretically tip their hand one way or the other between those two options: either what’s happening is not literally happening – it’s a metaphor meant to invoke something deeper – or else it’s an unlikely scenario that’s only being shared simply because it’s interesting on the face of it.
The problem is that Enemy does neither: it was never clear to me if the two identical men at the heart of the story were being used in some deeply symbolic way that I wasn’t quite getting or if it was something more David Lynchian, where the narrative power was supposed to come from the disconnect between the knowledge that things like this shouldn’t happen but this just did happen. It felt like it was going somewhere, so as I was watching it I kept hoping that if I sat it out then at the end I would have a sense of what it was trying to say, but it ended up abruptly without any real emotional pay-out on any level.
I’m sure there are people out there that will love this movie, because it inhabits an interesting head-space from the word go and it never relents an inch on it’s gray mood. Other people are likely to really hate this movie because it’s so inscrutable. I was somewhere in the middle, since I could easily see how a few small changes in it could have made it perfect or completely ruined it.