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Exploring ‘Enemy’

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Enemy is the 2014 film directed by Denis Villeneuve featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who meets his doppelgänger. Unlike Ayoade’s film, The Double, Enemy uses the doppelgänger topic to discuss deeper meanings and ideas. I saw this movie back in August and spent a lot of time trying to figure this movie out without the use of analysis articles or videos which I know are all over the internet, especially on this movie. If my analysis is similar to someone else’s, my intent was not one of plagiarism, but to discuss what I thought the movie was trying to say.

What Is This Film About?
This film seems to be about a man’s attempt at control getting the best of him as he slowly but surely loses said control. I feel that Anthony/Adam tried the acting scene and failed so he re-created himself as a teacher later in life. This is best shown in two scenes. First, when his mother says to stop pursuing acting and second, when he goes to the agency and its revealed he hasn’t been there for months. He is married but often has affairs with other women and goes to sex shows to satisfy his drive. The rest of the film alternates from being in his head to reality where we see Adam/Anthony’s present life clash with his past in his mind. As he imagines his personalities clashing in his head, he starts to lose control of himself. He can’t separate fantasy and reality as they start to intertwine and they start to take a toll on his life. His wife and his mother both see Adam/ Anthony’s clash as a mental breakdown, which can explain Helen’s reaction to him talking to her like she is a stranger at the school and his mother just dismisses him as crazy when they talk. As well as his dual personalities, he also remembers Mary, an old fling from the past that he had to stop seeing. Adam/Anthony fantasizes about her and the unemotional, sexual passion they had together. He has no longer had that since his wife found out about the affair. Eventually, he has to go the extent of killing his fantasy of Mary and his dual personality and uses the car crash on the radio as their killer to satisfy his mind. Now, he has no way of controlling and satisfying his sexual temptations in life because they were getting the best of him. Now, he must accept responsibility as a husband and future father.

The Lectures Adam/Anthony Teaches
Throughout the film, we see two symbols. One is Adam/Anthony’s lectures at the university which all discuss dictatorships. He brings up ways that dictatorships use control to eliminate individuality in cultures. This also feels true in Adam/Anthony’s life. He uses his dual personality and fantasy as a way to control his sex drive and the physical identicalness of his two personalities shows a lack of individuality between the two. He also brings up how this form of control repeats itself throughout history. This can be the same for himself because he keeps repeating his form of control on a daily basis. This can also be seen at the end when he finds the key. He still has these lustrous thoughts after “killing” his control and so must find another way to control himself. Finally, like most dictatorships, his very own falls apart as he loses control of himself and has to destroy the fantasies in his head.

What the Hell Are Up With Those Spiders?
The second symbols are the spiders, which I think represent Adam/Anthony’s level of control of not just his sex life, but also his personality disorder. They also tie in to the dictatorship symbol. At the beginning in the club, the woman steps on the tiny spider showing full control. He’s able to go out and be with whoever (Mary, anyone at the club) without feeling truly responsible for anything and not letting this double personality get the best of him. As his two personalities start to intertwine in his head, the spider gets bigger (walking around Toronto) showing he has no control anymore and his life is now chaos (explaining the quote at the beginning). His lives are intertwining and he can’t separate reality from his past/fantasy, which also leads to his loss of control of his sex drive. He can’t see many women anymore after his wife found out about his last affair (Mary, perhaps?) and he’s on a tighter leash, especially with a baby on the way. When Adam/Anthony sees his wife in the final shot, she is now a giant spider. This represents him killing his dual personality in his head but he still can’t let go of the sexual drive he has. This is best shown when he looks at the key in the envelope with temptation. Despite thinking he killed his drive, he still refuses to let go. Also, he has no freedom to satisfy his sexual temptations because of his responsibilities. He’s a husband and soon to be a father. He can’t keep sleeping around trying to please his drive. He must conform to reality and accept responsibility or repeat his cycle and try to find another control.

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What Do the Webs Mean?
The webs represented how Adam/Anthony is trapping himself in his past. He constantly envisions himself with Mary and refuses to let go of his sex drive and accept responsibility in his new, present life as a husband and father. He keeps feeling like he has to control it instead of moving on and as the film goes on, he fails at it and eventually tries to let go at the end by killing the memories (literally). Regardless, even after killing the memories, he is still trapped in the past (the web shown during the crash scene) and may never let go of it and letting the web entrap him even more.

Enemy is a movie about a man losing control of himself as fantasy starts to clash with reality and he loses more and more freedom to satisfy his temptations as he can’t accept responsibility in life. It’s an exceptional piece from last year and one of the most thought provoking I have seen in quite some time!

About The Author
Chris Ranta
Chris Ranta

I’m a fan of cinema and have been since a young age. I love to write analysis and discuss the film making process to give myself a better appreciation for it. My favourite genres of film are dark comedy and cult films. I also happen to like long walks on the beach if that helps…

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