Undeciphering Order: ENEMY is An Effective Presentation of Puzzle, Mystery, and Acting


Jake Gyllenhaal is both Adam Bell, a history professor trapped in his boring life; and Anthony, a third-class actor with passion. ENEMY starts by focusing on Adam teaching his students, going home, and having sex with his spouse Mary (Melanie Laurent). Everyday is exactly the same, until he saw himself playing in a movie.

Well, if you know that there is a person that looks exactly (exactly) like you, what will you do? Will you call him and ask him to meet? Will you be excited? The feeling doubles if you’re a history teacher that teaches totalitarianism and dictatorship and Karl Marx and Hegel. Parts of your lecture come to life; it’s like history repeating itself.

And till this line, everything in ENEMY looks normal. Adapted from the novel “The Double” by Jose Saramago and written for screen by Javier Gullon, viewers won’t recognize that there’s a code within ENEMY.

NOTE: Please don't continue reading because minor spoilers ahead. I gave it 4.5 stars and you know that it's a good rating. Come back and join our discussion after watching it!


It’s interesting enough: 90 minutes of Denis Villeneuve's ENEMY would take hours (or days) to decipher—just like the quote shown in the beginning of the movie, "Chaos is order yet undeciphered". Arguably, ENEMY is not a chaos; in the beginning it looks like a well-ordered mainstream thriller, but finally you cannot easily forget that 'unorthodox' opening act and those limbo-like scenes that end in an incredible ending. Just a few minutes before ending credits, everything exploded into a complete chaos that urges us to re-think about what we have just watched. I'll go to my second visit to the movie, I need to get satisfied once again. ENEMY is that good.

Here Jake Gyllenhaal played two different characters. That must be a challenge, but Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t seem confused to play both. I mean, he could be the same exact person by voice and look but he could also be two different people by character. ENEMY is all about Adam and Anthony; Helen (Sarah Gadon) is a necessary character but her screentime was limited (and don’t talk about Melanie Laurent’s character, Mary, whose screentime was more limited), and everything revolves around Gyllenhaal’s character—either Adam or Anthony. And for that, Gyllenhaal has been more than adequate.

ENEMY is all yellow. Even if you don't really follow the story (which I doubt), every mystery lover would be amused by its presentation. Well, it's always yellow and sometimes it feels boring but Denis Villeneuve dares to mute all voices and let an electronic, curiosity-raising sound effects be played in the background. All out. If you watch it at home, set your video player’s audio at the best setting and wear your best headphone or use your best audio speakers. Listen to how enigmatically things are going in ENEMY only by the way the movie is presented. And it has already been an interesting part of the movie.


Another interesting part of ENEMY? The ending. That is the most interesting part.

Imagine you're in your office with no one but yourself (just like my office right now). There is not much sound, only the whispering sound of air conditioner and the sound of your fingers typing on the keyboard. You are paying your full concentration to your work when right in front of you a giant meteor falls through the ceiling so suddenly that you can't do anything but stare completely blank to the view.

Well it's weird but that would be how I describe my feeling about the completely unexpected, somewhat terrifying last shot of ENEMY.

And then you'll know, what you have seen was not as simple as it seemed.

And how about that tarantula in the opening scene? Who are those fully-nude (and pregnant) women? Then why tarantula, after all? Even the actors have signed a confidentiality agreement for not talking about it (so why should we?), because I think these puzzles are the most rewarding part of the movie. You might take another hour (or day?) only to understand what everything means since Denis Villeneuve himself guaranteed that if we look at ENEMY again, we can see that everything has an answer and a meaning.

In brief, he told you you need to re-watch the movie.

Me? My curiosity got me browsing to some sites (like Slate's interesting article explaining the meaning of the movie or Movienthusiast's article in Bahasa Indonesia redefining the movie in a totally different, but refreshing, way—MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD, YOU DON'T SAY) but then I was left uninspired: in abstract I understand what everything is all about but no, I prefer not to translate everything quite literally. The puzzle is what I'm looking for.

Because for me ENEMY is like a modern retelling of David Lynchian concepts. Name every of his movie, but people would mention BLUE VELVET since Isabella Rossellini was cast in both. You have to re-order all seemingly well-ordered pieces of story, if only you need to fully understand what ENEMY is all about. But my experience with MULHOLLAND DR. taught me that when you got totally confused because of a film and you seek for explanation, the entertainment won't be as amusing. Well perhaps it's just me, but I believe it’s just useless to (in a way) “destruct” this creatively disorganized well-organized plot.


ENEMY is stunning. Funny that I was watching it alone and as the ending credit rolls, I clapped my hands to give applause. There are downsides here and there, and just with them ENEMY is already satisfying. For me this is better than Villeneuve’s latest work (with Gyllenhaal too!), PRISONERS. This is an effective thriller-mystery with rewarding puzzle at the end. Collect all pieces and put them back in order. ENEMY is for you, mystery lovers.


4.5 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Exciting puzzle, powerful sound effect and score, Jake Gyllenhaal, mind-blowing ending
 ▼  All-yellow tint sometimes feels monotonous

ENEMY | COUNTRY Canada YEAR 2014 RATING Rated R for some strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language RUNTIME 90 min GENRE Mystery, Thriller CAST Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Joshua Peace WRITER Javier Gullon (screenplay), Jose Saramago (novel "The Double") DIRECTOR Denis Villeneuve MORE INFO

Akbar Saputra

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.


  1. Good review. It's a very strange and twisty movie, but it still has me thinking about it an awful lot after seeing it a little less than a week ago, so it definitely has that going for it. Well that, and the fact that Gyllenhaal is pretty damn great here.

    1. It also happens to me. I keep thinking about it for days even though I don't want to think about it. Well perhaps that the 'magic' of the film.