Junior is nine years old and has stubbornly curly hair, or “BAD HAIR”. He wants to have it straightened for his yearbook picture, like a fashionable pop singer with long, ironed hair. This puts him at odds with his mother Marta.
The more Junior tries to look beautiful and make his mother love him, the more she rejects him.
He will find himself cornered, facing a painful decision.
“Enemy” is the latest movie from Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, of “Prisoners” fame. It is a doppelgänger story about a boring, gray man that discovers there is a cool, fancy actor that looks exactly like him. Exactly. Of course, he can’t resist getting in touch with him, and of course that’s where trouble begins.
Its twisted plot, visual features and philosophical themes have earned it a “what the heck” fame. Let me make it clear before we begin.
This movie is total chaos.
This is me trying to decipher it.
I wrote a short, distilled version for the Twitter generation. If you are in a hurry, just read that one. You should read the detailed version though when you find time, and let me know what you think about it. It’s where I get deep and dirty into the dough.
Spoiler alert: this analysis has plenty of details about the plot. Stop reading right away and go watch this movie first. This rant will only make sense after you have watched the film, freaked out, gone through denial and rage, and finally calmed down. You have been warned.
OK, here we go.
First, the Twitter version:
Married man feels trapped and repressed. Has an affair. Fights internal struggle. Goes back to his pregnant wife to make same mistake again.
Now, the TL:DR summarized version. The long analysis comes after the jump:
Adam and Anthony are two sides of the same person.
This is a man who feels trapped by his present as a boring, married, college professor about to become a father. He remembers his old dreams of youth (being an actor, having a cool bike, being a “man”). Spiders in the movie represent the “woman as a trap” in his mind, commitment that represses his individuality.
He gets carried away and leaves her wife and life for an adventure with another woman. This is represented by the initial private club scene where a stripper (his instinct) crushes a spider (the burden of his marriage and child).
He lives as an empty shell during this affair (memories stuffed in boxes in the back of his mind, torn pictures of his past representing the disconnect from his wife).
He reminisces of his old life (represented as his finding and research of his doppelgänger and his household). He does not like what he sees when he discovers his impulsive self. We learn he left aside his dreams for his wife (six months without visiting the acting agency, six months pregnant).
He is reminded by his mother (his conscience) of what really matters and what he has. Finally, he decides to return to his wife after an internal struggle where his instincts and his sense of responsibility fight to death. This death of his passionate, independent self is depicted literally as a car crash that kills his desire and ends with the close-up of a spider-web. He is trapped again.
His responsible self has dominated. But he is bound to make the same mistakes all over again. He finds and decides to use the key to the private club, darker desires come back to haunt him.
For those interested in an in-depth analysis, keep reading on. It is such a rollercoaster, get a grip.