Being busy, and stuff, it’s usual that I don’t comment on films as they’re released. I tend to wait for them to come out on DVD or until I can stream them. The Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is one such film. It’s been sitting on a shelf for over a month and I finally got round to watching it, and have not been able to stop thinking about it since, which I’m taking as a good thing.
Ever conscious not to include spoilers, this post is a reflection on a couple of aspects of the film that have pre-occupied my mind. The first is the spider motif that runs throughout the film, and that owes a huge nod to Louise Bourgeois’ Maman. There is a great discussion about the film, and about the film’s fixation with spiders, on the following Reddit subreddit: r/movies (but be aware, this has plenty of spoilers, so maybe go there after you’ve watched the film). Spiders have long been associated with the female form, think of Ariadne and also Arachne as two ancient examples of this, and this film appears to tap into the unconscious fears associated with spiders that many humans buy into, but most interesting is the way the film also challenges this view by presenting spiders as fearful and/or subject to human cruelty – and so we are talking metaphors here that require some unpacking, not literal stuff.
The second aspect is more a concern with the film’s aesthetics. From the off, the panorama views let you know that you can only be watching a film filmed in Canada, but the quality of the film, the filters, the camera angles (combined with the eerie soundtrack), and the angsty, not-in-too-much-of-a-hurry-to-move-the-plot-along-or-explain-everything-for-the-viewer feel of the film speaks very heavily of its European influence, and thank goodness for it. The film is challenging, slow in its pace, and offers more questions than answers, but it does make you think – and that’s a good thing, right?