Monday, September 9, 2013
Jake Gyllenhaal and Denis Villeneuve unveiled their original creative collaboration. Enemy had its world premiere at the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto, as part of the Toronto International Film Festival.
I was lucky enough to get a ticket, so I went at the last minute. The spontaneous trip left disrupted my life and left me a bit discombobulated, the perfect mindset for this bold, dramatic, inventive, challenging and original film.
Jake gives a wonderful performance, delineating the characters but without resorting to cartoonish or cliched ways of differentiating them. This is not an easy movie, and these characters are not easy men. You've probably seen the Playlist review. I think it does a good job of conveying what the move is like.
Thick with weighty themes, disquieting portent and anxious tension, Villeneuve—the Foreign Language Academy-Award nominated director of “Incendies”—crafts a gripping slow burn portrait of the male id/ego, our self-destructive tendencies and how they control us. Deeply in sync with his director’s tenebrous dream, Gyllenhaal obviously carries the entire film on his shoulders, and he delivers with a smoldering internalized performance of torment that is easily his finest work. The conflicted men are distinct, but it’s the nuanced, strange similarities between them and their own personal agonies that make for a remarkably committed turn by the young actor.
Part existentialist thriller, part psychosexual drama, “Enemy,” like Villeneuve’s earlier festival film, is exceptionally dark, harrowing, and especially engrossing. Those that have seen “Prisoners” can attest to the methodical, hyper-attuned clinician Villeneuve has become in his approach to genre, and “Enemy” has the same quivering pitch of masterful meticulousness. Not only is “Enemy” once again first-rate filmmaking, it’s profoundly unnerving. A challenging, sometimes abstract piece of work, “Enemy” doesn’t reveal itself easily, but its coiling ouroboros quality is fascinating and spellbindingly disturbing. A riveting examination of intimacy (and the lack thereof), identity, duality and the nether regions of our unconscious desires, “Enemy” is a transfixing grand slam that certifies Villeneuve as the real deal and one of the most exciting new voices in cinema today.
Here's another good review:
Hell exists. It's a bland, unfurnished apartment in a characterless Toronto high-rise. And salvation? That's real, too. It's a glassy condo in Mississauga.
In the smaller of his two Jake Gyllenhaal vehicles to premiere at TIFF (the other is Prisoners), Villeneuve captures Toronto with a wary outsider's eye, and the result in the best Hogtown movie since Cronenberg's Crash. Like that film, Enemy establishes T.O. as a glass-and-steel cocoon, a frontier town bordering a near future where people are so alienated from themselves (and each other) that they don't even know who they are, a place where a frumpy history prof (Gyllenhaal) and a motorcycle-riding wannabe actor (also Gyllenhaal) are entirely interchangeable. ...
The lurid pleasures of Villenueve's identity-crisis mind-fuck - a recurring tarantula motif, intimations of a members-only sex club in a condo basement and a strange cameo by Isabella Rossellini as an overbearing mother force-feeding her kid blueberries - are entirely trifling.
But they're put across with such giddy, nasty aplomb that it's impossible not to savour them. And Gyllenhaal is terrific. Twice.
It's hard to imagine this being a mainstream hit, but it could be an indie success, if marketed propery by the right company.
There was a huge line of people holding tickets to get in and trying to get last-minute tickets. I didn't get to see Jake and the other film folks arrive. But we did get to enjoy the Q&A. And some fun shots of Jake waiting to make his entrance on the stage.
You've probably all seen enough of the interviews to know the Gylleneuve relationship. It was the same here: affectionate, teasing, irreverent but very clearly full of mutual admiration.
I hope some tapes appear online. A friend of mine did take some videos but I haven't gotten them yet. It's worth it to hear more of Jake's Denis impression.
Jake, Denis and the rest studiously avoided explaining the movie directly, especially the spider. They joked about how it was an experiment and how no one quite knows what to make of it. Then Denis, probably to the consternation of the backers, said, "Wouldn't it be great if this is the only time the movie ever plays?" Jake loved that, naturally, and took it further. "I was at that screening. Were you there?" And so on.
Jake said his favorite scene to film was "The scene with Isabella Rossellini, obviously," a nod to his luminous costar. (Speaking of luminous, Sarah Gadon and Melanie Laurent define the word in this movie. I saw a tweet mentioning Hitchcock, and they definitely evoked Hitchcock blondes.)
Asked about filming in Toronto, Jake gave his familiar spiel about how the city is so encouraging of the arts, etc. To which Denis replied: "Bullshit. We drank a lot and ate a lot and got fat by the end."
Jake laughed and said that there were scenes he filmed at the end of the movie that made him think, "Someone's been to Terroni a few times!"
Another funny moment: An audience member asked if one could see the movie as all a dram, since there are many scenes of Jake waking up in bed. Denis handed the microphone to the writer, Javier Gullón. After a second, Jake also gave Gullón his mike. Gullón raised both mikes and said, simply, "No."
Prisoners interview I hadn't seen with a fun answer to what Jake loves about TO:
Forgot to add this last night: Jake has been a busy man in TO!