Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Enemy (review + analysis)

By Sati. Wednesday, April 23, 2014 , , , , , , , ,
(I'm starting  a new series, or to say more accurately, I'm creating a new label for the posts in which I ramble psychotically try to explain movies. It's called DECIPHERED and by clicking on it you can check out my other attempts at analyzing films)
One of the highest compliments I can give to psychological thriller, a gigantic puzzle of a movie is that I read about it extensively after seeing it, trying to put it together. I think it's now been 4 days I read about this one. And I'm still confused about some things.

People are weak. That was my first thought after seeing Denis Villeneuve's new movie Enemy. Well, to be fair that was my first thought after my brain dealt with the shock and horror of that final scene. Some call it the scariest final shot of any movie ever made. While I'd say that's en exaggeration, it's definitely out there near the top of the list.

Enemy follows an ordinary teacher Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal). Adam teaches history and leads a pretty simple life. He works, he meets with his girlfriend (it seems all they do is have sex) and he sits around in his apartment looking sad and tired.
One day a co-worker of his recommends a movie. While watching this movie Adams sees that one of the actors looks exactly like him. He investigates and he finds out that the actor is Anthony St. Claire. Adam wants to meet with him but Anthony is reluctant. When they finally do meet the events become even more confusing and mysterious.

I was one of the very few who really didn't like Prisoners, Villeneuve previous film. I thought it was horribly written, pretentious piece of Oscar-baiting shit (am I being too subtle in expressing my dislike here?), however Gyllenhaal and Villeneuve both did good job, Gyllenhaal did wonders with his performance and Villeneuve can't be blamed for the script - he did what he could. Enemy was such a pleasant surprise. Not only it's the kind of movie I love, it's everything Prisoners was not.
Even tough the film is quite slow paced, it's intriguing enough to make it impossible for you to take your eyes off screen. You're not bored because you can't wait to see more pieces of the puzzle and attempt to put them together. The film's beginning also immediately demands your attention and pulls you in this strange, surreal world. The film opens with a card saying 'chaos is order not year deciphered' and what follows is a disturbing scene during some sort of bizarre sex show.

The film is loaded with some truly wonderful imagery. Some of the stuff is there but you have to know where to look to notice it. Sometimes it takes your brain a while to actually realize what it is you are seeing. Enemy reminded me greatly of movies by David Lynch and David Cronenberg  (fun fact - Isabella Rossellini and Sarah Gadon, the two of directors' muses, are both in Enemy) - it's much less distressing to watch than their films but it's at times just as mysterious and fascinating.
The film has really outstanding special effects for a movie that I imagine had a very modest budget. There aren't many manipulated scenes here but those that are tempered with, are really fantastic. The score is also something worth praising as it's builds the tension and adds to the film's moody, grim and fatalistic atmosphere.

Jake Gyllenhaal was praised in every review of the movie I read and rightfully so. His performance, both as timid, ordinary Adam and outgoing, deceitful Anthony is just as subtle and yet nuanced enough you feel like you are watching two different people. My favorite moment of Gyllenhaal's performance is definitely the end of the scene in which Anthony is observing Adam's girlfriend on the streetcar. The look of anguish on his face is unreal.
I was very impressed with Sarah Gadon. I thought the casting here was excellent and she truly 'got' everything in the story. Her character, Helen, is if you choose one of the theories (the one I'll get to soon and the one I find most convincing) absolutely crucial. Helen is sweet and pretty. She is also 6-months pregnant which should make you, as a viewer, feel protective towards her. Yet you don't - there is something sinister about sweet, pregnant Helen, as we are watching the film from such strange point of view. Something about the way she looks at her husband and talks to him feels smothering, controlling, suffocating.

As for Isabella Rossellini and Melanie Laurent - while they don't have that much to do, their scenes are quite memorable. Rossellini's scene especially may be the key to understating the movie. Laurent while she has several sex scenes, which those enamored with her are definitely going to enjoy, is very well cast, especially given how her character, Mary, shares several physical similarities to Helen.

THEORY ON WHAT HAPPENED
(SPOILERS till the end of the post)

The most interesting thing about the movie is its story and the many different theories floating around as to what really happened and what this movie is actually about. There are so many different explanations, each with lots of points to back it up. Hell, there is even the body snatchers theory. However cool that one is, I don't find the evidence compelling enough.

The movie is based on the book The Double by Jose Saramago and in it the main two characters where indeed two different men. They were each other's doubles. However going by everything in this movie and certain things Villeneuve said about the spiders symbolizing the guilt of the protagonist there is no way Anthony and Adam are different people, no matter how much close to the ending of the novel (in which yet another double contacts the protagonist) this poster is.
Adam and Anthony must be the one and the same. Adam's mother mentions his dreams of becoming an actor - Anthony is in an actor. We know he wasn't in agency for 6 months, perhaps in this time Anthony started his teaching career (probably upon finding out about his wife's pregnancy, on one hand trying to earn some money and be there for her, on another trying to create something secret just for him).

In the scene in which his wife comes over to talk to him he acts as if he didn't knew her and she acts shocked. Whether Anthony is mentally ill or just made himself believe his other persona is real is unclear, what matters is the wife reaction. I think this scene is the first time she realizes that her husband has such secretive double life.
I saw Chris Stuckman's brilliant analysis of the movie and he has many wonderful points. His analysis is very observant and filled with impressive little things he picked up on, however there are several things I do not agree with. I agree Anthony and Adam are the same person. But I don't think Anthony/Adam is necessarily psychotic - he is someone who wanted to be an actor. I think he just pretends the other persona doesn't exist and acts the part, depending on circumstances (there is even a scene where he is rehearsing asking the other if he 'fucked his wife'; when as Adam he is on his way to his Anthony's apartment he walks past it, acting like he never been there before).

Villeneuve said something about the movie being about a man who subconsciously fights his demons. Now, in his above analysis, Stuckman implies the crash never happened and it was just a way for Anthony/Adam to kill his demons. I think the film is not in chronological order (hence the chaos card in the beginning) and the crash absolutely happened, only it happened in the beginning, not the end of the story.
I think because of the crash and Mary being in the car with Anthony/Adam his wife found out about infidelity. There's also the scar talk. I think this is how he protagonist got a scar. Sure, the car crash was very serious and it looked like it might have been fatal, but I think the only reason it is shown in the end of the movie is because it's the kind of climax of the infidelity arc for the protagonist until those demons start being too tempting to ignore them during the course of the movie.

Another thing I disagree with - I don't think spiders symbolize women. I think they are connected to them, but they symbolize fear, guilt, control.  I really connected with the character because I don't think the film works just as the portrayal of unfaithful man - I think it works as a depiction of desperate need to escape from other people's control and finding a way to live life without suffocating.
I don't think the final spider was afraid. I think it was a depiction of his wife sensing he will be unfaithful again and getting ready to attack. The look on the protagonist's face was almost accepting and definitely scared - he knows she knows what he wants to do. He knows he is in the wrong. The 'history repeats itself, first it's tragedy then it's a farce' refers, I believe, to the fact the first time he was unfaithful it ended in car crash and now he has all those ridiculous adventures with his 'double' - imagining switching the women in their lives, calling his own house and acting like he doesn't know his wife, etc.

I think Anthony created Adam persona to deal with his guilt with the car accident and being unfaithful. Notice that we see Anthony and Mary sex scene/car accident during his reconciliation with his wife. I think the first is in the past and the latter is in the present. That's why we see Adam waking up, startled. Because he remembers the experiences with Mary - they happened a while back.
I think Anthony started teaching around the same time he had an affair with Mary - we see his barely furnished apartment and him meeting with her. Who knows if the car accident happened recently or a while back. I think him following Mary is after they broke up - he looks anguished when he looks at her, so close to temptation and fighting the urge to give in.

In his lecture Adam talks about how government controls people. As one of the examples for its tools he mentions that they don't educate people. And here he is, being a teacher - rebelling against control in yet another way. The idea of totalitarianism I think referred to how something is expected of him - being a faithful husband, having respectful job etc. yet those are not the roles that suit him so he is rebelling by sabotaging things.
Two things didn't work for me - in regards to my theory what the hell was up with Mary noticing the mark left by wedding ring on his finger? Now, if it's indeed as I assume earlier in the timeline it would make sense if they hooked up, then he got married, started to wear a wedding ring, early in their affair she would notice it, car crash, they get back together, they break up and he stalks her on streetcars. My brain is exploding here.

Another thing - the picture. Adam has a torn picture of himself. Anthony has the same picture - the torn part showing Helen, framed. I tend to avoid going for easiest solution to give the writer more credit. The easiest solution is that there are two copies of the picture. But no, that can't be it. The picture Adam has is in one of the many boxes, stuff he didn't touch since he moved in. Perhaps Helen threw him out after she found out about the affair?
That places the scene that happens near the end of the film - where the guy in the elevator talks about the show they attended and Adam finds the framed picture in the apartment - before him finding out about his double. BUT seeing how the spider is angry (see the explanation above) in the final shot could that be in the beginning and the actual start of the movie in the end? It doesn't seem likely as Helen is heavily pregnant in the final sequence of the film.

That fucking picture is the new silver paint on Lily's face for me. On my death bed I'll still be asking about this.
 And here is a problem when you are watching the movie and not sure what's happening yet - as I understand in the book - where they are two different people - Anthony's counterpart blackmails Adam's counterpart to switch their lives for one night. Here he just intimidates him. That was a bit ridiculous. You let some guy have sex with your girlfriend because he yelled at you? Of course if my theory is correct it's not an issue in terms of reality, but in terms of buying what is happening as you watch the movie that scene struck me as odd.

Then there are blueberries - Anthony likes them and Adam doesn't. Blueberries are there for continuity - in the scene Adam sees the picture he also sees blueberries. Are these two elements just clumsily put there so we could figure out they are one person? I've been thinking about it for days and I can't do that anymore. So please share your ideas, especially about the picture in comments section.
In my extensive readings about the movie an idea of Anthony/Adam being a dictator who censors information showed up. I think it's an excellent theory. I think he plays two parts, seeing how he wanted to be an actor, this is his way of fulfilling himself - a husband and a man who seemingly does what he wants. But when he is away from family life, even during acting the part, he can't escape guilt. His fear creates paranoia and he perhaps needs to play this game with himself where he thinks there is a double and he is not the one running away from his responsibility, from his pregnant wife, from stability - that those are someone else's mistakes, not his.

And then when truth slowly crawls to him, just like a spider, he panics recognizing what tragedy (and farce) his life really is.

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56 comments:

  1. I'm usually not a big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal though I like him in a few things (i.e. Source Code), but this one looks really intriguing, and interesting metaphor about fighting inner demons. It's really tricky to play a dual role for any actor, sounds like he pulled it off here.

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    1. He really did, it's a very impressive performance! I think he can be really bland, like in Zodiac, but usually he delivers good work.

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    2. I think he's a decent actor, it's just for whatever reason I just don't find him intriguing. But with the right project, his talent can shine. I definitely will give this a rent.

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    3. I hope you'll like it! It's pretty dark but it's a very intriguing movie.

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  2. Good post. I really don't get the totalitarian, dictator crap. I too think that if going by the clues, Adam and Anthony are one person and the spider is a symbol for infidelity and all that.
    Still, I happen to prefer my original reading of the film where one man just takes over another man's life, possibly a superior version of himself and the fact that it happens so easily is more terrifying than that last scene. I loved the look and feel of the film. It is one of the most atmospheric movies I have seen in a while. I loved Gyllenhaal and Gadon.

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    1. Thanks! Same here, very atmospheric movie, been a while since I've seen something like this but than again I don't have enough time to see many films these days :/ Gadon was fantastic!

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  3. I missed this On Demand and I'm bummed because it looks and sounds insane. Gonna have to give it a look. When I do I wanna come back and read your spoiler section. Color me intrigued!

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    1. Awesome, hope you'll like the film!

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  4. Great review! (analysis? decipher?) I skipped the last part because I don't want to be spoiled. (that's a first) Since I loved Prisoners, I hope this translates to me loving Enemy even more.

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    1. Thank you! Oh I hated Prisoners yet loved this one, but I think it's just because movies like this one suit me better :)

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  5. Great analysis here. Really pleased that you liked the movie so much and have done all of this active research to try and figure it out. I'm with you on a lot of this. I too enjoyed Stuckman's video, but I disagreed with a lot of it. If we're going by his breakdown, then, essentially, the Mary character didn't exist, which I certainly don't think was the case. I like that you think the film was presented out of chronological order - that fits well.

    I'm reading "The Double" right now, and Enemy is a very, very fine adaptation of it. It takes away and adds to in all the right places. Enemy really deserved a wider theatrical release; the world needs brilliant, challenging films like this one. Not just popcorn flicks of monsters fuck hunting robots, and the like. Enemy will surely be one of my Top 10 of 2014. Maybe Top 5. Brilliant.

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    1. Thank you! I definitely think Mary was real - she is connected to so many things that definitely happened. I wouldn't check it out without your recommendation, so glad I did!

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  6. thank you for the review. I`m thinking about Enemy for 3 days, and I still didn`t put it all together. the first thing that confused me was the difference between the book and the movie. Saramago definitely told us about 2 different men. and it`s difficult to refuse from this idea and make them one person.

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  7. Great analysis of this film Sati. The film sounds very complex. Your review is great, but I don't quite understand it. This may be one of those films that I have to see in order to understand. Even if I see it sounds like it's up for interpretation. I wish this film had received more press. I haven't heard of it until now. It's now on my see-list.

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    1. Oh definitely. Hell when I was reading people's theories after I watched it quite attentively I was still very confused. It got very little attention, unfortunately, especially in Europe :/

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  8. Brilliant analysis, Margaret! I agree with most of them, but I can not make my mind about the car crash. Not sure whether it was in the beginning or in the end. I more think latter. I see this like, death of Anthony meant death of cheater part of Adam, that's why he says sorry to wife.

    Everything is so complex that I have to do multiple rewatches.

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    1. Thank you! I pretty much only think car crash was in the beginning because of the scar, but if someone came up with compelling reasoning behind scar I'd change my mind :)

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    2. If I find something, I'll let you know :))

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  9. I'm avoiding spoilers until I see the film, which should be soon. I'll be back to read this after I see it. ;)

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  10. Recently watched this and I really loved it (not surprising as it has a similar feel to Black Swan and seems to deal with mental issues as well). Great analysis and I can get into it. As for the blueberries, his mother also mentions them to him (as well as him trying to be an actor), so I also think he is the same person. It really is one of those movies you will be thinking about for days trying to make sense of it all. Definitely one I plan on rewatching!

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    1. I'll definitely rewatch it too, it's such an intricate story and I love cinematic mysteries like this film ^^ I think it will be high up on my top 20 of the year.

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  11. Great analysis of the film. After watching I believed that they were also one and the same person but that they were not really aware of each other's presence (Adam being the first, Anthony created out of his desire to be more than he is). I don't think he is psychotic but rather living with dual personalities with one (Anthony) trying to snuff out the other. I don't believe the women are real at all actually but manifestations of spiders, with something to do with the mystical energy of the secret club that Adam is drawn to.

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    1. That's an interesting take on the movie! I love how many theories one can have on that film and they all seem possible.

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  12. Hi,

    I watched the movie yesterday at a sneak preview and after reading a lot on it on the internet (your analysis is definitely the best) and sleeping one night, I must revise my initial opinion at least partly.

    First of all I must say that I didn't enjoy the movie. I was bored pretty much all the way through. From the beginning I was just waiting for it to be revealed that Adam and Anthony are the same person. (I was 100%, when Helen calls him from the bench and Anthony answers just the second Adam is out of sight). I mean I get that most of the plot is not shown on the screen, but the movie just didn't reach me. Also the atmosphere bored me all through the movie (If ominous music is played everywhere, it looses its effect completely). That was my impression right after the movie was over. So I gave it a bad rating.

    Then I read the name Saramago and I thought: "OK, there must be more to this"

    After thinking about it I agree with you in pretty much all points.

    - They ARE definitely the same person.

    - I also think that Anthony created the Adam persona after being kicked out by Helen.

    - I must say, I completely missed the picture part. I remember Adam having the torn picture in the very beginning and comparing it to Anthony's picture as the busboy, but as I said I was bored during the movie, so I'm sure, I missed a lot of small details later. But how about this idea:"Maybe the picture is a metaphor for the relationship/marriage of Anthony and Helen. It is torn when they are separated and in the end (I believe it is chronologically really in the end) she takes him back and the picture is mended again"

    - As for the spiders I would say it has definitely to do with his guilt and infidelity. I would say the spider represents Helen discovering that Anthony was unfaithful. In the last shot, he decides to go back to the mysterious club (which is a metaphor for cheating on his wife, right?) and Helen knows what is going on immediately (turns into spider)

    So for a summary of the story I would say:
    Anthony cheats on Helen with Mary -> car crash -> Helen finds out and kicks Anthony out -> he gets his own appartment/turns into Adam -> tries to get back together with Helen -> she takes him back -> but he can't overcome his urge to be unfaithful -> spider ;-)

    Wow, that was a lot of rambling from my side. Sorry about that!

    In summary, I would say it is a great story, but it still didn't make me enjoy the movie while I watched it (and I think a movie, no matter how artsy it is, should do that).

    Cheers
    Sebastian

    PS: How about this idea for final thoughts: Anthony cheats on Helen with Mary -> car crash -> He dies in the car crash, fighting, in his final moments, his guilt for being unfaithful -> the whole movie (everything is in his head) -> the last thing he sees is the broken wind shield (which looks exactly like a spider's web)

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    1. That is actually the best explanation of the photo I've read! It makes perfect sense now.

      No worries, that was a great read and I agree with your points. I really think that this explanation has least holes and leaps of logic out of the ones that are out there.

      Sorry you didn't enjoy the movie more! I usually don't mind slow, mysterious, artsy movies and it's been a while since I saw something like Enemy so I had a good time watching it.

      The everything in his head scenario is kinda used a lot in movies but it would make sense with that timeline.

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    2. Hi Sati,

      I can also enjoy slow paced artsy movies and I am not sure this movie had a fighting chance for me for two reasons. First, I didn't choose to watch it (it was a sneak preview) and Secondly it was advertised as a mystery thriller (which I don't believe it actually is)

      I think the main criticism from me personally is that I felt absolutely no connection to any of the characters (might be due to me expecting something else). I felt throughout the movie that every single character was very agitated and overly concerned all the time ("Oh my god, there is a guy that looks exactly like me!!!") and I just didn't care.

      So I really don't think it is a bad movie, I just didn't connect with it on any level. Actually until I read Saramago's name and started researching it on the internet and thinking back about it.

      And it really felt good writing up all my thoughts about it here :-)

      Thanks for reading it.

      Btw, have you watched the other movie based on a novel by Saramago called "Blindness"? I have read the book (loved it) and was wondering if the movie was any good...

      PS: I also prefer my first explanation to the everything-in-his-head sceanrio. I njust thought it really perculiar that the shot of the broken windshield looked so much like a spider's web.

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    3. I kinda related to him sabotaging things to feel more free, I feel like it's something a lot of people can relate to.

      I did see Blindness - didn't like it, good cinematography but I found the movie to be very hollow - actually I didn't connect to anyone there, much like you with Enemy. But I know a lot of people like the movie, so maybe you could give it a shot!

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  13. Re: Scenes being chronologically out of order (or the ending scene being the beginning of the movie). I noticed that when Adam is looking at Anthony's (untorn) photo of him & Helen, there is a book entitled 'History in Reverse' next to the photo. :)

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  14. I finally read that review Sati. Sorry for being so late, I had to watch the movie first and it is the end of the school year so I hardly have any time.
    I completely agree with you, except for one thing. I do think that spiders symbolize women. Why? Well, after Anthony speaks to his wife who questions him about his real motives, we see a woman with a spider head. He didn't cheat her, but she already attacks him with questions and suspicion. Then, after he's spoken to his mother, he has a dream again, this time the spider is HUGE. His mother IS this huge spider. When Anthony's wife asks him if he had gone to his mother, he says he had to call if off. Only that Adam went to see Anthony's mother. When he comes to her place we see her apartment, and by the look of it I can say that she is a successful artist, who has reached all her dreams and is very respected and knows how things works. But she doesn't even recognize her own son. She speaks straight-forward and even says 'Did you take your clothes off?' and 'The last thing you need is to meet strange men in hotels. You have trouble keeping one woman into your life.', very inappropriate words I'd say. This controlling diva has had a devastating effect on her son's psyche. This is why we see the biggest spider right after we see his mother - her non stop criticism and intrusive advice has a far reach and has always had a lot of control on him - just like the huge spider can have a lot of control with its giant web. Especially since she brought him up.
    The last spider we see, after he has had some sort of new start, the key he looks is the key for that club - the first temptation and he says immediately that he has some work tonight, because he can't resist. His wife sensed it and when he looked at the spider in the room it was his wife who went back, scared, ready to attack because she knows that if he leaves her she will be alone with a child. So he sighs because he knows there is no way back. He just accepts it. He'll probably have another mental brake down and he knows it. Due to his mother's destructive influence he views being with a woman like a dictatorship. He won't get our of her web, and he knows that. In the beginning we hear a cite by Karl Marx 'The first time it is a tragedy, the second time is a farce.' So he knows he'll make the same mistakes again, and it is going to be a farce.

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    1. That's a very good interpretation, especially about the mother and her lines, I suppose that's a sign of a great movie when there are several different theories explaining different scenes, I'm still a bit confused about the whole film, though and I should probably rewatch it :)

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    2. This is probably the best interpretation of the spiders i have read. Do you have any thoughts about the metaphorical web sown centre screen after the car crash (cracked window)?

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  15. I constantly find your arguments well structured and sensible. I always prefer to read the class and glad I found this thing in you post.

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  16. How about the pregnant wife's belly giving her a "spider" look...? I could not stop thinking about that after watching the movie.

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    1. That's a nice catch, it didn't occur to me when I was watching the movie

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  17. last scene: my take...he is an actor and was acting to be the other guy who he probably created to trap his wife like a spider....the wife slept with him believing he was the teacher..this was the trap...when he said he will late again after gettin key for club she then realised he was her husband..that explains the spiders fear....he proved that all people are capable of cheating and justifies his immoral behaviour...the wife essentially cheated and his expression was a sigh of i am not surprised...he was the dictator the one in control ...the spider...as the poster has the spider in his head he is the spider and all this was his intricate web...but then again what do i know and i only watched the movie once

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  18. Fuck me, do I like your theory about this. A lot.

    The wedding band tan-line still hurts my head though. If he cheated on his pregnant wife (wouldn't we assume it was during the pregnancy?), then how the Hell didn't she ever notice it. Was it simply because all they did was bang in his dingy apartment?

    Either way, thanks for the great read. I really, really liked it. But now...I'm going to go take a nap.

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  19. I don't know, but what I observe spider represents lots of negative emotions, anger, lies, guilt, infidelity, and fear.

    Though It is hard to explain the movie in one streamline, but one thing is sure, that they are one single person..

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    1. The spider can mean many things, I suppose. The film really did a great job at leaving some things open to multiple interpretations

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  20. Great analysis! I've just come home after watching the movie (I live in France, it's just arrived here) and I can't stop thinking about it.
    So, than you for having shared those thoughts, they're helping me a lot in understanding.
    My only comment is about the spider: especially in the scene of a giant one walking on the city, it reminds me of a sculpture I saw at Bilbao's Guggenheim, you can see it here: www.guggenheim-bilbao.es/en/works/maman/.
    It is called "Maman", which is: mum, mother.
    This, in my opinion, can explain why this animal is so present in the movie and why the wife turns into a spider in the end. It may represent the sense of guilt felt by Adam/Anthony, caused by his wife pregnancy, her controlling behaviour and his mother herself.
    Maybe...
    (I'm sorry for my language, I'm not a native English speaker)

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  21. I really like all that i read :)

    Just to help a little bit, i found this:

    => Next scene Helen is at the house confused and scared. Anthony/Adam walks in supposedly from a run and asks why she didn’t get the blueberries he liked so much and needs. Helen walks away. Later that evening she tells him what she did and says “what’s happening?” and when he says I don’t know what you’re talking about, she says “I think you know”. She is now slowly discovering that her husbands mind is split, he is gone insane.

    I also noticed this in the scene;
    Notice the sunglasses at the table there. Mind-blowing right?"



    The sunglasses at the table. Brilliant! :)

    from:
    http://shoton35.wordpress.com/tag/enemy-jake-gyllenhaal-movie-analysis-denis-villenueve-javier-guillon-screenplay-2014-sarah-gadon-isabella-rossellini/

    C.

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    1. What's the precise moment of this scene, what time? I just can't find out.
      I've seen the film a lot but still no sunglasses on the table. More, just can't find this snapshot in the whole film..

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  22. While I appreciate your psychologically motivated analysis of this film, it seems to me as though you are ignoring some of the dead give-aways that something sinister actually is going on beneath the surface.For instance, you make no mention of the weird, Eyes Wide Shut style gatherings Clare seems to attend. If this wasn't such a big part of the film, the door man at Clare's building would not have made the comments he made. It seems like the guy was up to some pretty deviant stuff. When Adam tells Helen he's going out, it leaves us to infer that his curiosity has gotten the best of him yet again- he has to know.

    This film is a tough nut to crack, and open to much interpretation. I doubt anyone but the film makers know for sure just what's going on here. Maybe they don't even know, which would explain why things were left so vague.

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    1. What of those gatherings? They help to establish that he is unfaithful/prone to being unfaithful.

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  23. Thank you for the review, it was the one that answered most of my questions. And sorry for late reply.

    I just wanted to share my theory about order of the scenes. As soon as i read about story being told non-chronologically this idea came up to my mind. The car crash really seemed much more natural in the beginning of the movie, but it is not just torn out scene and plot is not shown backwards(though I think "History in reverse" is not there by chance). I believe the story is cyclic. Just play it again after itself and many things seem to clear up.

    In the end Adam puts on Anthony's jacket and wants to go to the club. In the begging we see Anthony in the same suit actually coming to the club, and moreover we can't even tell if this visit takes place after the concierge's request or it is the night he was talking about in the elevator.

    Next, in the end we hear that mother called and Adam should call her back, then in the beginning there is a voice mail from her.

    Another fact that backs up my theory is a phrase from the lecture about history repeating itself(which was repeated for several times), as well as the phrase about world events happening twice.

    I guess this theory also holds answers for your questions about the picture. When the hero was with Helen the picture was intact, when he was with Mary it was torn. Since the story is a cylce it has neither beginning nor end, so when Adam sees the whole picture at Anthony's it's just another loop.

    Finally, having this theory in mind, the title of the moto magazine Adam is reading in Anthony's apartment seems totally not random. It's "Cycle!".

    I have read comments about plot being repetetive or about coming in the end to what we had in the beginning, but I believe there weren't any about literally cycling the story.

    Another thing that seems not to be mentioned anywhere is the spider-web tie that guy was wearing in "Where there's a will there's a way"(the movie in which Adam sees Anthony).

    What still bugs me is the ring mark. It just doesn't fit. But maybe it was added with the purpose that no theory would be 100% correct or it's just a mistake. Both versions seem not very plausible or satisfying so I'm still looking for better solution.

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  24. This was a great read! You came up with a lot of great stuff. So did a lot of the readers who commented. The only thing I'm sure of is that they are the same person. The wedding ring thing is most perplexing. Really, I just have to watch the damn thing again. Might come back after I do.

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  25. So my take is that Adam and Anthony are little spiders, personified as humans. They are born of the same mother spider, and she gives births to a lot of little spiders. POV movie about little spiders looking back on their lives as insignificant creatures. With a conscience. Like a movie extra compared himself to the star. He's insignificant, and Anthony played one too.

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  26. .... Spider Comment Continued:

    And, since the motif of the movie is getting pregnant, in the sex club, in the bedroom, and having a pregnant wife, and being a double with one mother, the motif and the theme is the same: all creatures are born from the same seed and look alike and act alike, and slightly different. They have the same DNA. It seems that spider eggs have the same germ cell and there are copies of them when fertilized by the male sperm (need to confirm this further, but it's my quick glance at a spider book:
    Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging )

    Adam and Anthony are little spiders, and when the sex club is shown to us, men watching, there is one female, and lots of males. Sounds like a female spider and lots of male spiders around. And in the upside down female walking shot, guess what, spiders can walk upside down.

    From a websource hamtwoslices_net: Did you know that spiders are almost all homosexual? Their species evolved to be that way as a form of population control. That's why there are so many male spiders and so few female. And that's also why the queen kills the male after mating with it, because she views him as a genetic anomaly.

    This is why the elevator guard couldn't get back into the sex room, because the female spider doesn't allow it. He's been figuratively eaten. He's out of the sex and reproductive cycle.

    When Adam wears sunglasses, and Anthony wears his helmet, it's a bait and switch by the writer, but they are seeing things through a thick, wide dark glasses, just like spider eyes.

    In regards to reproduction of spiders, from Wiki: If courtship is successful, the male injects his sperm from the pedipalps into the female's genital opening, known as the epigyne, on the underside of her abdomen. Female's reproductive tracts vary from simple tubes to systems that include seminal receptacles in which females store sperm and release it when they are ready.[8]

    And in the end credits, all the shots of buildings, looking like little holes in the ground for lots and lots of spiders come to mind. Monroe Towers, the twisted buildings looked like something that a spider would weave like a cocoon. From Wiki: The Phonognatha graeffei or leaf-curling spider's web serves both as a trap and as a way of making its home in a leaf.

    The Monroe buildings look like a giant metalic spider trap.

    Adam and Anthony are the real "Spiderman", and Gyllenhaal would have made an excellent Spiderman, in fact. Loosing the job to Tobey is another long discussion. But he was up for Spiderman 15 years ago.

    But, having said this, this film has ample, ample threads of information that can make us interpret the story in different ways, and still be right. It can be a fascist film (twoslices source: in the classic fairy tale, the "spider who sat down beside her" does not represent an actual spider at all, but is rather an allegory for the Soviet stranglehold over western Europe. At the same time, the term "Iron Curtain" was coined by Churchill not as a reference to the political situation but instead as an imaginative (if bleak) description of a wave of North Sea Fancy Spider's washing up near his beachfront home.)

    Or a spider film or an alien film (DNA replication) or a split personality film, and alike. The information is there. So the data analysis can lead to different conclusions. The writers and director definitely thought that the more information, the better, and it gives a different take to each person. Just like a symphony, it has lots of movements and parts, and it evokes a different emotion in different people. Just like a painting, it has as many meanings at there are eyes. So it's a well crafted film.

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  27. Just watched this move (twice) and here's my take on what is happening in the movie. We are presented with 2 realities (at different points in time) and 1 false reality. The 2 realities are 1) Anthony married to his wife (Helen) and 2) Anthony after his marriage has ended and he's living in an apartment with his belongings in moving boxes. The false reality is that of Adam (the teacher). Why do I think Adam is a false reality? Well basically because Adam has the torn picture of him and his wife and yet he does not recognize her when he sees her at the university. Who does Adam believe the picture was taken with? The character Adam, who is created by Anthony, is actually suppressing any memory of Helen. Also, Helen does not know who Adam is or what he does. She has to look him up online and go to the university. If Anthony was also a teacher then why wouldn't Helen know about his teaching career? The only one who knows about his teaching is his mother. Hence Adam is the false reality created by Anthony, who he only presents to his mother. When Helen sees Anthony acting as Adam at the university she begins to suspect that it is in fact her husband. She mentions this to him when she returns home. Anthony's initial reaction is of denial and then confusion. Anthony is acutely aware of the Adam persona but keeps suppressing it in light of his other desires or perhaps as a way to preserve what he considers his only escape from his actual reality.

    The Adam persona is not aware of Anthony because of the way Anthony has suppressed his memories. The colleague who recommends the movie to Adam is also a character created by Anthony's subconscious. This unconscious act of bringing up details from the past is what triggers Adam to begin a quest to find out who Anthony is.

    Also, I believe that the car crash happens at the beginning of the timeline but we only see it at the end because we're viewing the memory of what happened through Anthony's persona. I believe that he survives the car crash and that's why he has a scar and it's also why it's been 6 months since he was working at the agency. Helen is also 6 months pregnant and that's perhaps why they're still together after the affair. However it's the crash that has triggered the Adam persona to be created and it manifests itself over those 6 month as Anthony continues his sexual adventures in the club.

    Since Adam is the false reality we don't know whether the Mary we see with him in his apartment is real or not. I suspect she is and that she also survived the car crash (hence why Helen asks Anthony whether he's seeing "her" again). Ultimately it doesn't matter as she doesn't stay with Adam anyways. If you notice at the beginning of the film, although we're led to believe that she and Adam spend many nights together, Mary always leaves the apartment the same way (with Adam looking confused in bed).

    In the end it's Anthony who apologizes to Helen for what he has done. It's this Anthony who understands his actions, and who admits that the Adam persona exists, who Helen wants to "stay" with her. Of course he doesn't stay as the next morning he reverts back to his split personalities. This ultimately leads to the end of their marriage and Anthony moving out to a new apartment - the one he shows to his mother (recall the voice message at the beginning of the movie). At this point the Adam persona becomes dominant and it appears that the cycle of discovering who he his begins again (i.e. history repeating itself).

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  28. I think this movie can be seen as the same in many different ways. We know that it's about cheating and fear and guilt, but how it all comes together, time wise and what the spiders mean, actually are different for everyone. I think the spider in the end was afraid, or maybe she was afraid for an instant, and seeing her husband's face, was ready to attack. So maybe she was both. Maybe she was neither. Maybe the spider is actually a symbol for Anthony seeing women as insects, and he is surprised to see his wife in such a form, huge, for the first time? Who the hell knows, and now I want to see it again, because I feel like I missed something. I know I missed something!

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