Monday, September 9, 2013

Dual action

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!


UltraViolet said...

Repeating the last few posts from the previous post:

Hagen said...
Hagen looks like the infamous spider is very much still there! LOL :)

Oh yes, this tweet made me giggle:

Parker Mott ‏@parkermott
Denis Villeneuve's #Enemy – his use of a spider will give David Lynch's rabbits a run for their carrots. #TIFF13

Thierry Chèze ‏@Thierry_SCL
Jake Gyllhenhaal se dédouble brillamment dans le troublant Enemy de Denis Villeneuve #TIFF13

A comment on the Awards Watch forums: Enemy has absolutely no mainstream appeal and I can only see something like Radius-Weinstein picking it up, but you all are going to fucking adore it!

I think the producers will be glad that the pre-sale of the distribution rights has been pretty successful, except for the US, Germany, Italy and some other countries. But the distributors will be puzzled how they can market such a movie. ;-)

September 9, 2013 at 4:16 AM
Hagen said...
Brian Cashin ‏@Briman89
Being at a film where the lead actor in a few rows in front of you is a very strange experience. #Enemy was fantastically strange. #TIFF

Brian Cashin ‏@Briman89
@mermon7 I thought #Enemy was fantastic tonight. Such a strange film. Strangely excellent is how I would describe it.

September 9, 2013 at 5:12 AM
Hagen said...
Rope of Silicon praises Jake's performance in "Prisoners" (Grade: B+): To top it off, the performances across the board are stellar with Jackman and Gyllenhaal offering some of the best work I've seen from either of them, both worthy of Oscar attention.

UltraViolet said...

Also, just to add: WE did see Alyssa in the audience. She is very pretty and was very low-key.

Hagen said...

UV, thanks a lot for the report! I'm so happy for you that you could attend the premiere. I'm confident that sooner or later we all get the opportunity to see "Enemy".

"Wouldn't it be great if this is the only time the movie ever plays?"

LOL, the producers of "Enemy" and the sales agencies must have been thrilled to hear that comment. I can imagine Villeneuve had some discussions with them about the marketability of the movie.

"Someone's been to Terroni a few times!"

Jake really made sacrifices to play a slightly chubby character. ;-)

UltraViolet said...

LOL Hagen. He doesn't look too chubby, but he is hairy! Schlubby, yes, as Adam.

I sincerely hope everyone gets to see the movie, Hagen. It will be worth it.

Someone cleverer than I could do a fun infographic on the connections among Jake's characters. This character is a history teacher, and wasn't Sean Fentriss (Source Code) also a history teacher?

Added a quick video of Denis as well as a photo at the end showing that Jake was doing Nightcrawler business in Toronto, as well.

Mary said...

Lucky you UV I was wondering if you went to Toronto this weekend when I didn't see you around this wee kend.Sure Hope we get to see Enemy here glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

Emily Bryson ‏@emilybee20 2h
My mom just saw Jake Gyllenhaal in front of her in line at the airport. ��

UltraViolet said...

Aww, the Toronto adventure is over. I think Jake is going to need a few days to recover, but he doesn't really have them. Prisoners promo goes into full swing.

Thanks, Mary. I had work and family obligations but yesterday was all about Enemy :)

Lainey can be annoying, but this made me laugh:

On another rooftop in the city, Witherspoon’s ex-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal and his new girlfriend, Sports Illustrated model Alyssa Miller, were inseparable at the after-party for Enemy hosted by Hugo Boss at The Chase restaurant in the Financial District. Gyllenhaal and Miller, ridiculously attractive together, seem very much in love. At one point, she had both arms wrapped around his shoulders, with his hand resting on her leg. When he tenderly rubbed a piece of food off her bottom lip, it was like a fragrance ad being played out in real life right in front of me.

She also apparently tweeted this:

Elaine Lui @ TIFF: Watching Jake Gyllenhaal wipe food off his girlfriend’s lips

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Haters Gonna Hate said...

Well now that you have shed your hate, jealousy and pettiness frustration, puoi tornare under your rock, sad lousy 1:06 PM Anonymous

UltraViolet said...

LOL. Yeah, I got my ticket and my all access pass. All paid for by Jake's people. I live the life, I tell you.

In reality based news., have we heard any more Enemy reviews.

Tweety said...

How exciyng UV! I have never beem to a film festival before. Thanks do much for sharing your review.
The film definitely is art house material. I hope it will get a US Distributer.

@1:06 What crawled up your ass and died?

FP said...

WOW! UV, I'm so happy, and (a lot jealous;)) that you've had the opportunity to see Enemy, and with Jake and Denis, but you deserve it :) seems like yesterday that they were filming the movie and eating at Terron every night lol!

Thanks a lot for the amazing report!

PS UV What that spider is about? heheh

Felix Tsang ‏@fhmtsang 2h

#Enemy by Denis Villeneueve, starring jake gyllenhaal was insane. i need to see this again. what just happened..?

lily sawyer said...

I'm glad you the enemy uv. I guess alyssa arrived on another flight and joined Jake. I wondered if she was going to join him. Wonderful.

I hope we hear the movie gets a distributor and we all get to see it.

I can't wait to see prisoners. I'm a Hugh jackman fan.

I wonder if Jake will do another movie with Denis or with Duncan too, they got a.long great as well


FP said...

Alan Jones ‏@alanjonesxxxv 3h

If PRISONERS is half as good as ENEMY, than Monsieur Villaneuve (spelling?) is having a very good year. #TIFF13

Alan Jones ‏@alanjonesxxxv 9m

Loved that ENEMY continues Cronenberg's vision of Toronto as a cold, sterile place where everyone is sad and stressed out. #TIFF13

Alan Jones ‏@alanjonesxxxv 6m

I predict that Jake Gyllenhaal's beard will win an Oscar. #ENEMY #TIFF13

There are rumors swirling about a bromance between you and Denis. Can you confirm or deny any bromantic tendencies?
[Laughs] I would consider him a brother, yes. I would consider him that, but I would say that with an equal amount of love and an equal amount of hatred. So, that's as close to the truth as you're going to get, probably. But I love him deeply, and he says [impersonates Villeneuve again], "And I hate him deeply, as well."

What can you tell us about "Enemy," your other movie with Villeneuve?
I don't know, man. It is quite an experience. I would say that it's not even necessarily a movie; it's an experience. It's an experience in the unconscious, the unconscious of a director. It was an experiment and experience for us, and this movie, "Prisoners," was an evolution from that. It was a time in which you're basically just exploring some very strange, interesting themes. It's almost like falling asleep. It's almost like those moments in dreams that you can faintly remember, that's what I could describe that movie as now. I'm fascinated with how people will respond because it really is an experience. I really wouldn't walk into that movie expecting a movie, if that makes any sense.

One last, quick question: What role, past or present, do you wish you could have played?
Oh, my god. [long pause] I don't know if it's one character, but literally, like, any role in the "Bourne" movies, just to be a part of that community of actors and that subject matter and that story. Yeah, they're amazing.

Hagen said...

There has been a press & industry screening of "Enemy" today (schedule with a time shift of one hour?).

Some tweets:

Colin Covert ‏@colincovert
If anyone spoils the final shot of Denis Villeneuve's doppelgänger drama "Enemy" w/Jake Gyllenhaal, stab him and leave him for dead. TIFF

Robert Koehler ‏@bhkoe
Denis Villeneuve's first of two Jake Gyllenhaals, ENEMY, is fairly ridiculous. As bonus and to no point, Toronto is made out to be Beijing.

Matt Barone ‏@MBarone
"Enemy," w/ Jake Gyllenhaal: think David Fincher going arthouse for a great "Twilight Zone" ep. Definitely a favorite #TIFF13 film right now

Mathieu Ravier ‏@mattriviera
ENEMY: Denis Villeneuve is a cinematic dictator controlling his audience by withdrawing information and limiting expression. Superb. #tiff13

Mathieu Ravier ‏@mattriviera
ENEMY photography (by Nicolas Bolduc) was jaundiced. Not Soderbergh-yellow but almost monochrome. As if Toronto itself was diseased. #tiff13

Alan Jones ‏@alanjonesxxxv
I predict that Jake Gyllenhaal's beard will win an Oscar. #ENEMY #TIFF13

Mitch Lowe ‏@mitch__lowe
Loved #JakeGyllenhaal in #prisoner but OMG he can't save #Enemy. Someone tell me what the huge spider symbolized?

Hagen said...

Just Jared: Jake Gyllenhaal & James Franco Land in Los Angeles After TIFF

FP said...

Gary Michael Walters ‏@garymwalters 1m

#JakeGyllenhaal utterly bored by my stories lol #tiff #TIFF2013 #TIFF13 #nightcrawlers #star #actor #movies


FP said...

High above the city, at Hugo Boss’s stylish Enemy party on the Chase rooftop terrace, I spot the first major party PDA of the fest. Jake Gyllenhaal and his hot new flame, Sports Illustrated model Alyssa Miller, cuddle and kiss in the cabana, enjoying the shroud of secrecy only candlelight can give. If I hadn’t been seated nearby, next to his co-star Isabella Rossellini and director Denis Villeneuve, I’d have missed it along with the rest of the crowd. At one point, Miller wraps both her lithe limbs around Gyllenhaal; it’s like an Annie Leibovitz portrait come to life. He then nibbles a runaway piece of raw seafood off her bottom lip in a moment I can only dub as orgasmic (even if voyeuristically just for moi). Score one for Hugo Boss’s clever and clandestine lighting design, sparking a most erotically-charged gesture, hotter than anything we’ve seen on the silver screen.
Fifty shades of Jake ;)

UltraViolet said...

Added a fun photo of Jake and Denis from the party.

Monica said...

UV, very happy you watched and enjoyed Enemy and the Q & A with Gylleneuve! Very good to know what is one more great performance from Jake.

Another review, if it hasn't been posted: screendaily

Office of Nancy Pelosi said...

I'm so hrilled (and a bit jealous:) that you got to go to a screening of Enemy and the q&a!

The film sounds a but Lynchish I hope it finds an audience. I know I plan on seeing it!

FP said...

Kamala ‏@kamzzzy 3m

In line to see "Enemy" with Jake Gyllenhaal and definitely getting in #hopefully #TIFF13 #TIFF…

nice words about Jake

Monica said...

Hugh & Jake Pal Around on 'Prisoners' Red Carpet


UltraViolet said...

Some tweets from tonight and yesterday. There are several negative reactions but the majority seem to be positive and/or questioning.

You must see Enemy. Jake Gyllenhaal. Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds). Dennis Villeneuve (director) is awesome. #TIFF13

#Tiff13: Denis Villeneuve's "Enemy" has great performance(s) from Gyllenhaal, and a TO & vibe reminiscent of Crash or Dead Ringers.

#TIFF13 expected J Gyllenhaal thriller ENEMY to b simple thriller. Was bafflingly bizarre. Amazing or terrible? ? out of 5 Check back later?/Immediate thoughts of ENEMY: biggest surprise of fest. Both angers and intrigues. Pays dividends to know NOTHING going in. Damn Internet.

So Enemy was kind of terrible. Weird and terrible. I wish so much that it wasn't. But it was. #TIFFin140. #TIFF13

Dark synths & yellow tints turned Toronto (and @UTSC) into a disturbing nightmare in #Enemy. #TIFF13

Enemy = weirdest movie set in Toronto since Videodrome. Gonna have trouble sleeping tonight with that final shot in my head. #TIFF13

Scott Tobias ‏@scott_tobias 6m
ENEMY (Villeneuve) Precisely the sort of arch literary conceit that never translates well to film. Pretentious, agonizing twaddle. #TIFF13/
@scott_tobias Too bad that no clear answers are presented. The type of film only people like Gyllenhaal's professor would analyze deeply.

"Enemy" de Denis Villeneuve : très bon mais... weird ! #TIFF13

Denis Villeneuve's concrete, suburban Toronto is hilariously ugly. Loved ENEMY. Movies never need to make sense, if they're good! #TIFF13

Liked ENEMY. Great perf by Jake G. #TIFF13

11 #TIFF13 films in, my fav 3: "Dom Hemingway" / "Labor Day" / "Only Lovers Left Alive". "Enemy" & "Can A Song Save Your Life" get HMs, too.

You must see Enemy. Jake Gyllenhaal. Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds). Dennis Villeneuve (director) is awesome. #TIFF13

Is ENEMY the sleeper hit of #TIFF13?

Devan's TIFF halfway top 5: 1. Prisoners 2. Gravity 3. 12 Years a Slave 4. Enemy 5. Blue is the Warmest Color#TIFF13

The Gyllenhaal thirst is real out here. #TIFF13 (@ TIFF Bell Lightbox - @tiff_net for Enemy w/ 10 others)

#TIFF13 Denis Villeneuve's Enemy gave me shivers of Shivers...Toronto, Mississauga at its streile best.

Now that The Double and Enemy have screened at #TIFF13 , can anyone who's seen both weigh in on which they preferred? #doppelgangers//ENEMY, but I liked both a lot.

Film 22 ENEMY Kafka + The Machinist. Gyllenhaal is soooo good in this. #TIFF13

Yeah yeah it's complex and dark and wierd, but under it all ENEMY is about a mild-mannered man who learns to be okay. #TIFF13

Loved that ENEMY continues Cronenberg's vision of Toronto as a cold, sterile place where everyone is sad and stressed out. #TIFF13

Can't shake last night's screening of ENEMY. Huge congratulations to Mr. @KevinKrikst and all involved. #TIFF13

I love folks are talking about the last shot in Enemy. #TIFF13

Really liked "Enemy," a brooding existentialist mindbender shot through with black humor. Mesmerizing direction and score. #tiff13

Just spotted @darryldinn in Enemy a fantastic film at #tiff13 where #toronto plays the skyline.”

Exchange with an actor who worked with Jake on Enemy:

just saw the p&i screening how long did that scene take to film? wild ending!

Darryl Dinn ‏@darryldinn 11h
@dobbernation worked with Jake 1/2 a day. Was fun we got to improv, he's very funny #enemy #TIFF13

Hagen said...

Hollywood Reporter:
Enemy: Toronto Review - An oppressive, Kafkaesque tale of a man who meets his double will challenge some and frustrate others.

The Loop (Grade: A): TIFF Review - ‘Enemy’

Flickering Myth (2 out of 5 stars): TIFF Movie Review - Enemy

Anonymous said...

Shala Thomas ‏@shalathomas 2m
(independent) film blogger, film festival contributor for @LambThe, writer for @filmophilia & @blerdnation, world traveler, daydreamer, appropriate stalker...

I wasn't through wih #TIFF13. Rushed to see #Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal. It was strange and creepy and I loved it. Gyllenhaal was FANTASTIC,

UltraViolet said...

Thanks, Hagen and anon. Positives definitely outweighing the negative so far, but the negative is definitely out there.

New post :)