Jake Gyllenhaal flexes some serious acting chops in Denis Villeneuve’s offbeat “Enemy,” a surreal flick in which the star plays both a shy college professor and his actor doppelgänger.
Adapted from the 2002 novel by José Saramago, it’s set in and around a Toronto that’s engulfed in a perpetual soft yellow and by a suffocating dusty haze, while stalked by a hulking, skyscraper-sized spider.
Villeneuve, shifting gears significantly from “Prisoners,” his last collaboration with Gyllenhaal, offers an intimate journey into the mind of Gyllenhaal’s Adam, who notices the identical Anthony in the background of a movie scene and becomes obsessed with him.
It’s a movie filled with scenes of quiet contemplation and hurried research, awkward calls and uncomfortable encounters.
The part tests Gyllenhaal to a significant extent. Front and center in every scene, the actor externalizes a deeply internal crisis, one that calls into question the most fundamental notion of humanity.
Gyllenhaal sheds any hints of movie star vanity to indulge in this mysterious existential descent into madness. He’s a confused wreck on screen and he keeps you engaged on this opaque journey.