Movie Enemy Explained


Enemy (2013) is a truly fascinating movie that grabs hold of your attention and imbeds itself into your psyche. This is not a movie you will ever forget!

Enemy (2013) Movie Explained
TitleEnemy (2013)
GenrePsychological Thriller
DirectorDenis Villeneuve
Release DateFebruary 6, 2014
ActorsJake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellin
Rating5 out of 5

I have watched Enemy 5 times. I watch a lot of movies, but Enemy is the one my mind seems to drift to time and time again. It is due both to the intense character portrayal by Jake Gyllenhaal and the intrigue of the script. Are there two different people or one with a loss of sense of self?

When my mind drifts to this movie, I think, maybe I should watch it again, I may have missed something that will help me figure it out once and for all.

And that is the drive, ultimately, to unravel the mystery of what is REALLY going on in this film.  However, I’m not sure there is one answer. This movie is interpreted differently by each person, and maybe even by the same person on multiple viewings. 

It is a truly fascinating movie that grabs hold of your attention and imbeds itself into your psyche. I promise, this is not a movie you will ever forget!

Unraveling the Enigma: Exploring the Depths of Identity in Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy”

Movie Summary

“Enemy” is a psychological thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, released in 2013 and based on José Saramago’s novel “The Double.” The movie is known for its enigmatic and surreal narrative that sparks various interpretations.

The story revolves around a mild mannered history professor named Adam Bell (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), who lives a monotonous life in Toronto. One day, he stumbles upon a movie and discovers that there is an actor who looks exactly like him, named Anthony Claire (also played by Jake Gyllenhaal). Intrigued and disturbed by this uncanny resemblance, Adam becomes obsessed with finding Anthony.

As Adam delves deeper into this mystery, he discovers that Anthony is living a vastly different life. Anthony is married to Helen (played by Sarah Gadon), and their relationship is fraught with tension. As Adam and Anthony’s lives become increasingly intertwined, their identities blur, leading to a gripping and surreal exploration of duality, identity, and the subconscious.

“Enemy” is a visually striking and thought provoking film that delves into themes of identity crisis, individuality, and the dark recesses of the human psyche. The movie’s ambiguity and surrealism have led to various interpretations, making it a provocative and divisive cinematic experience. It leaves audiences with numerous questions and interpretations about the nature of the self and the complexities of the human mind.

How closely does the movie adhere to the novel “The Double”?

The movie “Enemy,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, is loosely based on José Saramago’s novel “The Double.” While the film draws inspiration from the novel’s central premise of duality and the existence of a look alike, it takes creative liberties and departs significantly from the source material.

In Saramago’s novel, the protagonist, Tertuliano Máximo Afonso, discovers a man who is his exact physical double, leading to an exploration of identity, existential crisis, and the consequences of confronting one’s doppelgänger. Tertuliano Máximo Afonso and his double are separate individuals, each with their own life and experiences.

In contrast, the movie “Enemy” has the central characters, Adam Bell and Anthony Claire, being portrayed by the same actor, Jake Gyllenhaal. This emphasizes the physical resemblance but diverges from the novel’s more traditional approach of two distinct characters.

“Enemy” relocates the story from the novel’s original setting of a contemporary Portuguese city and transports it to the modern urban setting of Toronto, Canada.

The novel “The Double” follows a more conventional narrative style, whereas “Enemy” embraces a surreal and non linear storytelling approach. The film’s narrative is deliberately ambiguous, often leaving audiences with more questions than answers.

Both the novel and the film delve into the concept of identity and the unsettling experience of encountering one’s double. However, “Enemy” amplifies the psychological and existential aspects of this theme, diving deeper into the characters’ internal struggles.

“Enemy” incorporates significant symbolism, particularly with the use of spiders and keys, which adds layers of complexity to the narrative. The film’s enigmatic and ambiguous atmosphere is not as pronounced in the novel, which tends to provide a more straightforward exploration of its themes.

In summary, while “Enemy” draws inspiration from José Saramago’s novel “The Double” and shares some thematic similarities, it takes a distinct and more surreal approach to storytelling. The film’s unique interpretation of duality, its relocation to a modern urban setting, and its use of symbolism contribute to a narrative that deviates from the source material. Therefore, “Enemy” can be considered a creative adaptation rather than a faithful replication of the novel.

The Dual Jake Gyllenhaals:

At the heart of “Enemy” lies the brilliant dual performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. He portrays two distinct characters, Adam Bell and Anthony Claire, who are identical in appearance but radically different in personality and circumstances. Adam is a disenchanted history professor leading a monotonous life, while Anthony is a charismatic actor involved in a tumultuous relationship with his pregnant wife, Helen.

The film’s central mystery revolves around the uncanny resemblance between these two men, a discovery that sets in motion a series of events leading to an identity crisis of epic proportions. As Adam becomes increasingly obsessed with finding Anthony, the lines between their lives blur, and the film takes viewers on a surreal journey through their interconnected destinies.

Duality and Identity:

“Enemy” delves deep into the concept of duality, both in terms of individual identity and the dualities that permeate our existence. The film presents a stark contrast between the two Jakes, emphasizing the age old struggle between the conscious and unconscious self. Adam and Anthony serve as metaphors for the conflicting desires and fears that reside within all of us, challenging viewers to confront their own inner duality.

As the narrative unfolds, the film raises profound questions about the nature of identity. Are Adam and Anthony two distinct individuals or different facets of the same person? Are they separate entities or mirror images of one another? “Enemy” refuses to provide easy answers, leaving audiences to grapple with the ambiguity and complexity of the human psyche.

Surrealism and Symbolism:

Denis Villeneuve’s direction in “Enemy” is nothing short of mesmerizing. The film’s visual style is steeped in surrealism, with a dark, foreboding atmosphere that mirrors the characters’ psychological descent. Toronto’s urban landscape is transformed into an eerie, dreamlike setting that adds to the film’s sense of unease.

Symbolism plays a significant role in “Enemy,” with recurring motifs like spiders, keys, and oppressive interiors serving as visual cues that hint at deeper meanings. These symbols, while open to interpretation, contribute to the film’s overall sense of foreboding and disquiet.

Lets explore the symbolism of keys and spiders in the movie “enemy”

The use of symbolism in “Enemy” is both intricate and enigmatic, contributing to the film’s overall sense of foreboding and psychological tension. Two prominent symbols in the movie are keys and spiders, each carrying distinct meanings that add depth to the narrative.


Keys in “Enemy” serve as a potent symbol with multiple layers of interpretation:

a. Control and Entrapment: Keys are associated with control and access in the film. They symbolize the characters’ desire to have control over their lives and relationships. Both Adam and Anthony are searching for a sense of agency in their respective situations. Keys can also represent the idea of being trapped or confined within a particular role or existence, mirroring the characters’ struggles with their identities.

b. Unlocking Hidden Desires and Secrets: Keys can be seen as metaphorical tools for unlocking hidden desires, fears, and aspects of the characters’ personalities. The film suggests that delving into one’s subconscious can lead to unsettling discoveries. The act of seeking out one’s doppelgänger or confronting one’s own double can be seen as an attempt to access repressed emotions and truths.

c. The Unknown and the Forbidden: Keys are often associated with what lies beyond a locked door, which is unknown or forbidden. In “Enemy,” they symbolize the characters’ curiosity about the unknown aspects of themselves and their lives. This curiosity leads them into a realm of uncertainty and ambiguity, much like the mysterious world of the subconscious.


Enemy Movie Explained : Spiders

Spiders are another prominent symbol in “Enemy” and are interwoven with the narrative in several ways:

a. Web of Deception: Spiders create intricate webs to catch their prey, and in the film, they can be seen as a symbol of the tangled web of deception and hidden truths that the characters find themselves in. The web represents the complex interplay of identities and relationships.

b. The Shadow Self: Spiders are often associated with shadowy, hidden aspects of the self. In the film, they can be interpreted as manifestations of the characters’ suppressed desires, fears, and guilt. The presence of spiders suggests that the characters are entangled in their own psychological webs.

c. Fear and Discomfort: Spiders are a common source of fear and discomfort for many people. Their presence in the film creates a sense of unease and tension. This unease reflects the characters’ growing discomfort as they confront the unsettling truths about themselves and their lives.

The symbolism of keys and spiders in “Enemy” adds depth and complexity to the film’s exploration of duality, identity, and the subconscious. These symbols invite viewers to interpret the narrative on multiple levels, leaving them with a sense of ambiguity and intrigue long after the movie ends.

Movie Enemy Explained

A Tale of Dualities:

At its core, “Enemy” is a story of dualities. The doppelgängers, Adam Bell and Anthony Claire, represent contrasting aspects of the same individual. This duality extends beyond their physical appearance and seeps into their psychological and emotional states. This interpretation suggests that these dualities are symbolic of the conscious and unconscious mind, with each character representing distinct facets of human consciousness.

Adam and Anthony: The Conscious and Unconscious:

Adam Bell embodies the conscious mind, the part of ourselves that we are aware of and can control to some extent. He is a history professor, representing the analytical and structured aspect of the human psyche. His mundane life and repetitive routines symbolize the predictable nature of conscious thought.

On the other hand, Anthony Claire embodies the unconscious mind, the hidden depths of our psyche that operate beyond our awareness. As an actor, Anthony thrives on performance and deception, reflecting the unpredictability and elusive nature of the unconscious. His turbulent relationship with Helen and his involvement in secretive activities mirror the chaos and complexity of the unconscious mind.

In Adam’s apartment, viewers can spot subtle clues that suggest the merging of conscious and unconscious elements. The room is a reflection of the characters’ inner turmoil, with books scattered on the floor, symbolizing the chaotic nature of the unconscious.

Both Adam and Anthony have repressed desires and secrets, which are gradually revealed. This mirrors the way the unconscious mind can store and hide aspects of our personality and emotions until they emerge, often unexpectedly.

In the climactic scene where Adam and Anthony confront each other in a hotel room, their intense interaction can be seen as a metaphorical battle between the conscious and unconscious selves. It’s a struggle to reconcile their differences and face the truths that lie beneath the surface.

The Ending

The ending of Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy” is as enigmatic and complex as the rest of the film, and it aligns with the interpretation of the movie as a reflection of the conscious and unconscious mind. In the context of this analysis, the ending takes on a symbolic and metaphorical significance.

In the final scene, Adam finds himself in a room with a giant spider. This concluding moment can be interpreted as a metaphorical representation of the ongoing struggle between the conscious and unconscious aspects of his mind, suggesting that the journey of self discovery never truly ends.

The spider, a recurring symbol throughout the film, represents the intricate and often unsettling forces of the unconscious. Its presence is overwhelming and eerie, much like the hidden aspects of the psyche that can exert a powerful influence on our thoughts and actions. In this moment, Adam confronts the spider, which can be seen as a confrontation with the deepest and most hidden parts of his unconscious.

The ambiguous nature of the ending leaves viewers with questions and uncertainty, much like the mysteries of the human mind. It suggests that the journey of self discovery and reconciliation between conscious and unconscious elements is ongoing and may never truly reach a resolution. The film’s conclusion invites viewers to contemplate the complexity of the human psyche, the duality within ourselves, and the enigmatic nature of identity and self awareness.

The ending of “Enemy” aligns with the film’s overarching theme of duality and the interplay between the conscious and unconscious mind. It leaves us with a sense of lingering ambiguity and a profound exploration of the depths of human psychology.


“Enemy” is a film that defies easy interpretation, and that’s part of its enduring allure. This perspective, viewing it as a metaphorical journey into the conscious and unconscious mind, adds a layer of complexity to the narrative. In this interpretation, Adam and Anthony are not just doppelgängers but symbolic representations of the human psyche’s dual nature. The movie invites viewers to explore the depths of their own unconscious, the tangled web of their thoughts and emotions, and the enigmatic nature of their true selves. It’s a dark and haunting reflection of the human condition, one that continues to provoke thought and discussion long after the credits roll.

This is not just a must watch film, it is a must rewatch film!

Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)





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