MONDAY MOVIES: Double trouble

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Adam, a morose history professor who is watching a DVD one night and spots an actor who could be his twin.

The concept of a doppelganger – more prosaically known as a perfect double – has been a literary trope for centuries, with authors as diverse as Poe and Dostoevsky exploring this theme. Portugal’s Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago ventured onto this tricky terrain in The Double, and his novel has now been renamed Enemy and brought to the screen by talented Quebec director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners). It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam, a morose history professor who is watching a DVD one night and spots an actor who could be his twin. Attracted and disturbed in equal measure, Adam starts stalking “Anthony,” and eventually makes contact. The actor (also played by Gyllenhaal) is confident and even aggressive, and begins to dominate Adam. Eventually, the two men briefly swap lives, as Adam’s psyche increasingly crumbles under the onslaught of his inexplicable existential dilemma.

The film is set in Toronto, and that city’s skyline is draped by a featureless grey smogscape, while the high-rises seem like warrens for dull little lives. Villeneuve is having a lot of fun repeatedly referencing David Cronenberg (Shivers, Videodrome, Spider, and Dead Ringers all get a homage), as Enemy generates increasing feelings of unease.

As psychological thrillers go, this one is sophisticated in the way that its unpredictability and ambiguities add to viewer uncertainty. Between its nightmarish dreams and extreme subjectivity, the film’s deliberate lack of logic and blurring of reality challenge the viewer. There is a strong core of truth here – Adam has “mother issues” and both men have trouble relating to their attractive blonde girlfriends – but coherence fractures into disorientation as the story unfolds. And making it all work is Gyllenhaal, who does a fine job of playing both characters such that you can tell immediately who is the confident actor and who the diffident professor.

Enemy is an impressive addition to the surprisingly large number of Canadian art films that have given our cinema its international reputation for being sexually weird and emotionally creepy. There is plenty of that to go round here. And as a special bonus for arachnaphobes, the film begins and ends with rather shocking spider moments. Not to all tastes, but fans of serious cinema should check this one out.

ENEMY *** 1/2

Stars Jake Gyllenhaal

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

COMING SOON:

Railway Man

This epic true story stars Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) as a British officer during WW II who was tortured at a Japanese labour camp. Decades afterwards he decides to confront the man most responsible for his torments. With Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgard.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel Comics continues to rule at the box office, and their latest offering features a beleaguered Captain America confronting a terrifyingly powerful Russian assassin. With Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel Jackson, and Robert Redford.

Noah

Aussie superstar Russell Crowe gets all biblical in Darren (Black Swan) Aronofsky’s epic – and already controversial – account of Godly wrath and a certain ark that is mankind’s only hope to stay dry. With Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins.

Dom Hemingway

In this comedy-tinged crime drama from England, Jude Law plays a notorious safecracker, just released after a 12-year prison stint, who’s on the streets and looking for trouble. Co-starring Richard E. Grant.

Sabotage

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, again, this time as the head of an elite DEA taskforce whose members are getting picked off one by one after they rob a drug cartel’s safe house.

PERFECTLY POTABLE:

Petit Verdot is most famous in Bordeaux where, in small splashes, its spiciness and near-black colour add pizzazz to blended reds composed mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Shift to Australia, though, and their hot climate yields such a juicy Petit Verdot that it succeeds as a stand-alone varietal. Famed producer Pirramimma has been bottling a great one for 20 years, and their 2010 vintage is richly flavoured and full-bodied, with brambly black fruits and hints of vanilla and pepper. This is a sophisticated wine, despite being a full-on fruit bomb. At $30, maybe open it for a birthday party – wine fans will cheer!

 

 

 

Just Posted

Region’s 250th Little Free Library installed in Victoria

Greater Victoria now has the highest density of mapped little libraries in the country

PHOTO GALLERY: Cyclists were all smiles during ninth Tour de Victoria

More than 2,100 cyclists participated, locals and visitors alike

Final HarbourCats home game of 2019 happening tonight at RAP

Tickets still available for Game 1 of the West Coast League finals; first pitch at 6:35 p.m.

WINE NOTES: Going gaga over B.C. Gewürztraminer

Robert Moyes offers up some interesting late-summer vino choices

Take your opportunity to sing at the Royal Theatre

Great Canadian Sing debuts Sept. 8 with inspirational music, talented performers, singalong format

For the Love of Fibre: Fibrations 2019 wrapup

Fibre arts celebrated through demonstrations and market showcasing locally made items

Tour de Victoria: Giving you the down low on detours around the region

Thousands of cyclists participating in ninth Tour de Victoria on Saturday

Christopher Auchter’s story headed to the international stage at Toronto International Film Fest

Old Massett totem pole raising revisited in Christopher Auchter’s documentary Now Is The Time

Saanich Peninsula student scores only scholarship for Canadians offered by top U.S. music school

Stelly’s grad Isaiah Carvalhal-Smith and his electric bass off to Boston after successful audition

Yellow Wolf Powwow draws dancers from across Canada

Saanichton event a celebration of Indigenous culture

Victoria-based elephant advocate fighting to end ivory trade

Founder of World Elephant Day hopes to spread awareness, add political pressure

Most Read