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    Enemy: An ultimate mindbender

    If there's one film that will bend you mind, twist your logic and challenge your sensibility, it's Enemy, guaranteed to be the most talked about psychological thriller in years. Not since The Sixth Sense has there been such a meticulously crafted masterwork where every moment offers a unique exploration of the human mind, and a journey into a story where everything is not what it seems, and what is revealed, ultimately, delivers something fresh and invigorating.

    Director Denis Villeneuve delivered an ultimate mystery thriller with the excellent Prisoners, and with Enemy he reunites with actor Jake Gyllenhaal to bring us an equally powerful story filled with suspense and intrigue, and an ending that will blow you out of your seat.

    Although Enemy seems to be the very ordinary story of a dull and lacklustre teacher (Gyllenhaal), whose mundane existence is turned upside down when he discovers that he has a doppelganger, a stranger who is his identical twin and lives a life of fame and notoriety, it is an extraordinary exploration of the human condition.

    Is it the same person? Is it his long-lost twin? Is it a figment of his imagination? It all sounds a bit perplexing, but these are the questions the movie forces you to answer.

    Enemy: An ultimate mindbender

    A psychological thriller, a psychosexual dream

    At its most basic, Enemy is about a man having an affair. Then again, nothing about Enemy should be described as 'basic'. It's a psychological thriller, a psychosexual dream, and an exploration in duality.

    Gyllenhaal is absolutely superb in his dual roles, perfectly capturing the essence of man who is desperately in search of excitement in his supposedly meaningless existence, and a man whose world is corrupted by perverse extremes.

    The film does not take sides, but allows us to decide who the real enemy is. It allows us to look at our own lives and look at our own existence, daring us to take the plunge and take a leap of fantasy into our other self, to that person we long to be, or someone leading a different life that is in direct contrast to what we know or believe.

    In Enemy, the world of reality and the realm of the unknown collide head-on in a gripping tale that never forces itself on you, but gently draws you deeper into a spiralling abyss of ambiguity that will leave you guessing and refiguring the puzzle long after you have left the cinema.

    Enemy: An ultimate mindbender

    An avalanche of blogs

    In fact, the film had such an impact during its international release last year, which caused an avalanche of blogs, videos and interviews with director trying to offer an explanation of its ending.

    For Villeneuve, Enemy is an intensely personal odyssey: "It's a fear of failure, of a threat, the threat of not being able to evolve as a human being: the threat of the power of the subconscious; why it's so powerful and how it tells us to get rid of certain pieces inside ourselves. Whenever I have to make a decision that's connected to a feeling inside myself, I'm always afraid of not being in control. I question a lot whether we're really in control of ourselves. This film is, for me, an exploration of a worry.

    "The film was influenced by Hitchcock and a little by Polanski. When you make a movie in the 21st century, you are always being influenced by tons of masters. This one is really an exploration of suspense and, for me, it was like a neurotic spy movie. And in order to do that, it was a pleasure to revisit some of Hitchcock's movies, but I do that with a lot of humility, trying to be playful. So many masterpieces have been made in the past, so that today when you make a movie I think you have to be humble."

    Enemy is one film you must experience cold, without knowing too much about it, so ensure not to read up on the film before watching it, because your research into trying to find answers after seeing it, will lead to another exciting exploration.

    What makes Enemy work extremely well is that it does not try to be clever, nor is it in any way indulgent, but ends up being an ultimate intellectually challenging experience.

    A film that provokes dialogue

    It is one of those rare films that open up an enormous discussion between its audience and the film, as well as conversations between those who have seen it; it's a film that provokes dialogue and an opportunity to experience film in an intelligent and stimulating way.

    Make sure to see Enemy, it guarantees to be your best friend after watching it as it delivers a cinematic experience unlike anything you have ever seen before, and one that elevates the art of storytelling and filmmaking.

    Yes, it's that good and a film you will definitely see more than once, if only to prove that you are right and there are fatal flaws in the story. Eventually you will settle into accepting Enemy for what it is: a great film is flawless and a masterwork that dares to stimulate the intellect without an onslaught of meaningless and superficial visual effects or loaded context, a film where content is rules.

    Says Villeneuve: "I think that an audience can understand concepts or ideas that are poetic and strange from an emotional point of view, but from an intellectual point of view it would be trying for the audience to have to process. And it's something that I love about a lot of filmmakers, like Kubrick. He's one of my favourite filmmakers because he's one of the masters of this. As a filmmaker it's my dream to be able to try to create those connections between the two levels. In some ways, I think all movies are trying to do that."

    Says Gyllenhaal: "You just have to experience it. That's why I always say that this is an experience. It's not a movie. Because you can't really describe what it is, but you know there are things you connect to. It's like that moment where I said the character walks down and all of a sudden thinks he's on the moon. I think I know where this is but I am not sure where I am. That's the movie."

    Enemy is released exclusively at the Labia Cinema in Cape Town so make sure not to miss it!

    Read an interview with Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal at www.writingstudio.co.za/page5469.html

    About Daniel Dercksen

    Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit www.writingstudio.co.za
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