NOTE: The portion of this article dealing with the film Noah contains some spoilers. That portion follows the review of Enemy.
Enemy stars Jake Gyllenhaal in a psychological thriller about a man who meets his doppelganger and the consequences of that discovery. Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal) is a history teacher leading a meager lifestyle who is disinterested in most of the things in his life, including his girlfriend. After watching a movie recommended to him by a colleague, he spots his double, an actor named Anthony Claire and decides to track him down. After they meet, their lives become connected in bizarre ways.
Here's the good:
1) Gyllenhaal is very good in this film as two characters who are very different but share similar nuances.
2) The film has pieces to be a very good psychological thriller with several questions that were left up to the audience and clues left by the director that could lead the audience down whichever path they choose to go.
Here's the bad:
1) Those pieces did not come together to wrap the movie up. It does not answer the main question of the film. Are they two different people or the same person with multiple personalities? It's possible that I'm not as smart as I think I am when it comes to dissecting the meaning of a film but I did not get the clarification I needed on this film.
2) There are a few scenes and some imagery in this film that do not make sense. It's difficult to explain without a major spoiler alert but the beginning of the film and the end of the film do not fit with the meat of it. It's too artsy for a mainstream audience.
3) When I walked out of the screening I was very confused by the ending.
When weighing the good against the bad, I cannot recommend this film because I don't think there's enough of a payoff to warrant the time it and mental effort it takes to get through the film. It's a disappointment because it had so many of the elements that could have made it a wonderful thriller.
Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel open in Little Rock this weekend and I spoke with one of its stars, actor Jeff Goldblum about being a member of the Wes Anderson actor family and working with the eclectic director.
I'm going to assume that everyone who reads this is familiar with the biblical story of Noah. Here's a quick refresher: The world became corrupt, man became evil, and God was not pleased. He told Noah he was going to wash the world away and instructed him to build an Ark and that he would send a pari f every creature of the Earth to the Ark so that life could begin again. He also told Noah to take his sons and his sons' wives upon the Ark so that man could be restored as well. The rains came and after 40 days and 40 nights they stopped and roughly a year after that, the Ark came to rest on land.
Going into the Darren Aronofsky's film version of Noah, one must accept that he would take artistic license with the source material. The book of Genesis story of Noah is only 5 chapters long which is not enough material from which to make a feature film. There are many things in the film that are not in the bible that can be accepted. I can accept that at the time, there were several nomadic tribes and its' likely there was a regional war lord who would hear of this massive structure being built (the Ark) and would try to take it once the rains began to fall if not sooner. Noah would probably have to be a warrior to some degree in order to be able to protect his family from the evils of that world. In the film, man would have to be painted with an evil brush and the land portrayed so horrid that the audience would need to understand why the world needed cleansing. I'm also familiar with Aronofsky's films (Black Swan, The Wrestler, and Requiem for a Dream) so I know he's going to throw in some weird things and a lot of symbolic meanings. Those things I can accept and I will give a director a lot of wiggle room in those areas.
The problem with artistic license is that sometimes it deviates too far from the source.
Here's where that license went too far (SPOILER ALERT):
1) Angels cast in rock
2) Noah goes crazy on the Ark and considers murdering his family and newly-born Granchildren.
3) Only one of Noah's sons has a wife
4) Noah believes that his family are to be the last of mankind on Earth.
5) Methuselah (Noah's Grandfather) is a mystic warrior.
6) Angels cast in rock taught humans about technology.
That's just a brief summation of the film. If you can get past all of that and take it as a well-made, creative film with great acting by Russell Crowe as Noah and the supporting cast around him then you will enjoy this film but if you are expecting the literal interpretation of the biblical story then you will be disappointed.