Saturday, August 15, 2015
I once walked from Bungay to Ditchingham across the Norfolk/Suffolk border by a back road. An old man came down the hill and passed me by. We did not speak. When I looked round a few moments later, he had disappeared. The reason I turned was because he seemed familiar. Too familiar. He was my older self.
The notion of identical selves occupying the same time and space has preoccupied creative minds often enough. The latest film on this theme is Enemy (2013) with Jake Gyllenhaal playing two identical men, one of whom sees an actor in a film and pursues him to discover why they are identical. The feel of the film is of cold war East Europe with its leached browns and yellows, totalitarian architecture and complete absence of human warmth. As the characters and their female companions begin to mesh and grind in a hopeless foursome, the foreboding in the film increases. A small review cannot be a spoiler, so I will only say that Gyllenhaal is remarkably subtle in demarcating the two characters he plays, that a strange, unfathomable symbolism appears and reappears, hanging like a black pall over the city, that there are some disturbing extremes of human behavior and that it ends with a single moment of abject terror.
It has elements of Christopher Nolan, of Wim Wenders and of Michael Haneke but it is also impressively the unique work of its director, Denis Villeneuve.