EDIT: Don’t forget to watch the comment box for more discussions about ‘Enemy’
WARNING HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD.
So you finished watching ‘Enemy’ and you are probably thinking……WTF?! For some days now I’ve been analyzing the movie scene by scene, and I think I’ve come to an accurate knowledge what it all actually meant. So if you have some time, I will explain to you piece by piece in the actual chronological order about the movie, plus I’m also going to explain the Spiders in the movie at the end of the analysis.
First of all, let me tell you this. I was impressed by the awesome soundtrack this movie had that I decided to buy it on iTunes. When I opened the .pdf that was in the album, I noticed that the director (Denis Villeneuve) wrote a recommendation note and in it he wrote this.
With that I can confirm that Adam and Anthony is without a doubt, the same person. No, there is no double, there is just one and that one person is ‘Anthony’.
What I meant with ‘the actual chronological order’ is that the movie is edited as a puzzle, not every scene is in the place as it should be, which is why the movie misleads you in a great way. Think of the movie Donnie Darko which isn’t also edited in a normal chronological order. This movie has two separate stories and is mixed together throughout the whole movie. What I will do is explain to you all the events of the movie in one actual timeline, which will explain my theory of Anthony being the only person that’s real. So sometimes I will refer the character as Adam/Anthony or Anthony/Adam. Whoever’s name is first is the actual character we are experiencing.
The Car Crash
The car crash is one of the final scenes of the movie, but is actually the very first scene of the actual reality story. Anthony and Mary (Melanie Laurent) meet up at the ‘Breezeway Inn’ in the same room where in the middle of the movie Anthony and Adam meet. While they are having sex, Mary notices the ring mark on Anthony’s hand and finds out he is actually married. Mary freaks out and leaves, but eventually gets in the car with Anthony. They start to argue which turns into a heavy car accident. This is where Anthony gets his scar on his chest. I’ve read a lot of interpretations of the movie, but never was the scar actually explained, I can’t believe everybody missed that.
This is also the moment Helen (Sarah Gadon) discovers he had a mistress, and the subject comes back later when they are talking in the kitchen and she asks “Are you seeing her again?” referring to Mary, a scene that we see in the beginning of the movie where we meet them for the first time.
The accident is the cause of Anthony having a split identity. He invents Adam Bell in his mind, which before everything was probably a pseudonym he used. Some said that the last name Bell had something to do with the Bellhop of the movie……that’s just stupid, so forget that. So after the accident, Helen finds out, but somehow they still come back together. Probably because she tells him that she’s pregnant, and they decide to give there relationship another try. Anthony doesn’t go to his talent agency anymore for over 6 months and starts a job as a History Teacher, maybe using his pseudonym or that is a point where the movie tries to mislead you. This is where Anthony starts to lose his mind completely. His fear of commitment brought him to madness and he starts to fantasize about being someone else, being Adam Bell.
Side note: Remember in Inception where DiCaprio’s character Cobb is haunted by his wife in his dreams and he reveals to Ariadne his memories of her, you know the elevator scene where every floor has a memory of the wife. The difference with Cobb and Anthony is that Cobb can control his subconscious, but his problem being that he can’t let go. Anthony can’t let go of his urges either, and he can’t control his subconscious and it starts to be a complete mess and that’s why he is starting to lose his shit and doesn’t know what reality is and what’s not.
This is where the lectures comes in. He teaches the class about dictatorship and the first lines of the actual movie are extremely important. He starts off with…
Adam (Anthony): “Control, it’s all about control.”
After that he starts to discuss dictatorships, which is also an important element of the movie. He explains them that they censored any means of individual expression. And then he tells the class something else that’s very important;
Adam: “It is important to remember this, that this is a pattern that repeats itself, throughout history”
The next scene we see a glimpse at the tram wires around the city that connect “like a spiderweb”. (Don’t worry, I will explain the spiders and spiderwebs in the movie very soon). Next we see Adam walking past a wall, where we can see painting of a multiple man giving a fascist salute, while in the centre we see a man painted in red. This actually shows that Anthony is completely lost in his subconcious.
Defiance against rule, dictatorships and the fear of commitment are all themes of Enemy. It makes it all clear through dialogue but mostly through visual imagery.
When there’s a will, there’s a way
Now a colleague at work recommends him a movie. He goes to rent this movie, at a local video store. The song in the video store is actually relevant to the story. The song is called “The Cheater” by Bob Kuban & The In Men. It’s about a man who has no business being with women, because he can’t control his urges to sleep around.
New Apartment/Mary’s back
Anthony as Adam buys a new apartment. We see what the mother was talking about in the voicemail in the beginning. We see that his apartment is pretty much empty, with just a kitchen, chair, laptop and a bed. He is sitting at the kitchen and closes his eyes when the doorbell rings. It is Mary, apparently months after the accident they start to see each other again, and this is the first time since the accident as she asks him how he’s doing. This is followed by scenes of him repeating the lecture of dictatorship and intercutting with scenes of him having more and more sex with Mary. But… all those scenes that comes next with him being with Mary in the apartment, is actually all the same day. They actually never see each other again after that. This is Anthony constantly hitting a wall in his subconscious. He can’t let go. Why do you think we intercut scenes with Anthony/Adam being back at school and lecturing again about the same subject? Remember this line?
Adam: “It is important to remember this, that this is a pattern that repeats itself, throughout history”
Take out all those scenes with Mary and put them together. You’ll see, it is all the same day. It is also the same day when he is lecturing to the class. Because if you look good, it is the same class as before. Why would he repeat the lecture to the same class? In the first scene of the classroom he also finishes with “See you next week”. This means that Anthony is just constantely repeating himself in his mind. Remember we are watching this movie through his subconcious mind as the director himself confirmed. If all those times he is actually meeting with Mary, wouldn’t his wife get suspicious of him again why he always is out of the house. Now later that day he remembered he had rented the movie. He starts to watch it normally the first time and then goes to tease Mary in to sex. Mary eventually realizes that he is still to aggresive and can’t stand it anymore and leaves.
Anthony/Adam goes to sleep and dreams about the movie, where we see him play the bellhop in the movie. Anthony remembers something that he left at the agency and starts to go there as Adam who just did research on the bellhop in the film (this actual scene is not the scene you see in the movie, i’ll explain it later..). He has sunglasses on and drives to the agency where the guard recognizes him, as Anthony. Then he says that he is supposed to pick up something, which there actually is. I don’t think this is a coincidence at all. It just confirms more and more that he is Anthony. Only in this scene he was going back and forth as Anthony and Adam.
“Adam” starts to get obsessed with his doppelganger and goes to the address that was on the envelope. He stops at a telephone booth and calls to Anthony’s house where Helen picks up and recognizes Anthony’s voice. She is confused why her husband is suddenly acting like someone else.
Back at the Saint Claire house
Anthony imagines a conversation with “Adam” on the phone. His wife Helen starts the ‘interrogation’ by asking who was on the phone. He replies with it was that guy who he referred to as a stalker and a fan of a film he was in and that he wanted to meet up. She laughs like it was a joke but then she gets suspicious. He walks to the bedroom to write Adam’s name down and under it that he is a history teacher, when he walks back in to the kitchen Helen asks again who was on the phone? He replies again with it was the same guy, only now he sounds not convincing enough. Helen gets more suspicious and says “Are you lying to me?” and later she adds “Are you seeing her? Are you seeing her again?” As I said before she is referring to Mary. Anthony breaks and yells “It was a man! It was a man!” He leaves and the shot reveals for the first time in the movie that Helen is pregnant. We are now officially 6 months further after the accident. Helen tries to call back but the phones shows “Unknown Caller”.
School of Adam?
So Helen starts to play detective and in the evening picks the piece of paper and searches Adam Bell up. She looks for Adam Bell at the school that turns into a shocking conclusion to her to see her husband walking out of the building towards a bench, acting different and looking different. She sits next to him, and Adam/Anthony sees her and talks to her, asking if she’s alright and how many months she’s pregnant, in which she replies “six”. Adam then heads back to class, and Helen calls her husband on the phone. When Adam disappears from the shot, Anthony/Adam picks up the phone. Now his wife is completely confused.
I think you know
Next scene Helen is at the house confused and scared. Anthony/Adam walks in supposedly from a run and asks why she didn’t get the blueberries he liked so much and needs. Helen walks away. Later that evening she tells him what she did and says “what’s happening?” and when he says I don’t know what you’re talking about, she says “I think you know”. She is now slowly discovering that her husbands mind is split, he is gone insane.
I also noticed this in the scene;
Notice the sunglasses at the table there. Mind-blowing right?
Anthony starts stalking Mary and follows her to her work. He starting stalking here not because of Adam, but because of the night she went away, because he can’t let her go. He goes back home and tells his wife that the guy won’t bother them again. He walks to the bathroom and says “Fuck” feeling that he is losing his mistress. Then a close up at Helen, who is still completely confused by her husband and wondering what he just did and been doing those six months.
Anthony meets Adam at the hotel that he and his mistress went the night of the crash. Now at the beginning I said that the movie has two separate stories and is mixed together throughout the whole movie. This is the point where the stories cross each other. We see Anthony who is normal and calm (first story) and Adam who is stressed out and panicking (second story, which I will explain later in this analysis).
After the meet-up Adam/Anthony goes to visit his mother. Her mother played by Isabella Rosellini tells him that it is complete nonesense that there is no possibility of a twin-brother. Now she says two very important lines;
Mother: “You have enough trouble sticking with one woman don’t you?
Mother: “You are my only son, I am you’re only mother. You have a respectable job, a nice apartment and since we are being frank here. I think you should quit that fantasy being a third-rate movie actor.”
This catches him completely off guard, because he is thinking as Adam. What we can also add to the confirmation that Anthony is the real person, is when before the mother said that line she offered him blueberries. Which Adam responds with “I don’t like Blueberries” Of course you do says the mother. Remember back at the Saint Claire’s house that Anthony came home and desperately wanted blueberries….Yup there you have it.
So after this scene in the movie we see a huge freaking spider walking over Toronto. Don’t worry I didn’t forget about the spiders in the movie. I know it’s killing you but I’m almost at the point at explaining the spiders, hang on just a little bit more.
Adam at Saint Claire’s apartment
Adam/Anthony visits the apartment of the Saint Claire’s. The doorman downstairs recognizes him and opens the door for him. A man we recognize from the beginning of the movie at the sex club. He walks with him up to the apartment and in the elevator he tells him.
Doorman: “I can’t stop thinking about the other night. Can’t get it out of my head. I know I shouldn’t talk about this but… I’d love to go back.”
Obviously he is referring to the sex club we saw at the beginning of the movie. But that moment hasn’t happened yet in this timeline. He tells him that they changed the locks and send out new keys and that he thinks is not on the list. Adam/Anthony says he’ll see what he can do and walks to the apartment door, where Adam/Anthony walks to far from the door. The doorman opens and Adam/Anthony enters the apartment.
He walks around and observing everything. He looks in the closet and changes clothes, now looking like Anthony. He opens the fridge finds the blueberries, and then he finds the photograph of him and Helen which you know was torn at the beginning of the movie. Funny clue, next to the photo are some books, and one book reads ‘History in Reverse’ which I think was put there intentionaley. Now Helen comes home, Adam jumps getting ready for what’s coming. She sees him and says;
Helen: “What are you doing, I thought you were at your moms.”
This confuses him a lot, because he had his mind set as Adam when he was at his moms, now knowing that Anthony went there to he is starting to realize he may have gone insane. When Adam asks if she needed anything, Helen’s suspicions start. Adam/Anthony goes in to the bedroom and asks the same thing again, to which Helen responds if everythings okay with him. He says that he might think she needed something after being in the pool and you know because she’s 6 months pregnant, and here at this point the light goes on in Helen’s head and she starts to realize the husband is being different again, so she is going to put it on a test by saying “Come to bed”.
She watches him closely, touches him and gets closer and then she asks “Did you have a good day at school?” This cathes Adam/Anthony off guard, but then Helen thinks he is not the other person again he is now Anthony, that’s why she finally says “Forget it”.
Now Anthony is starting to realize what he has actually done and starts to remember the beginning of all. He wakes up and is remembering how he is having sex with Mary and how she discovers he’s married and how they eventually got into a fight and had a car accident together. He starts crying at the couch in the living room. He finally realizes that he is gone insane and tells her “I’m sorry” and Anthony and Helen starts to make love.
Final scene of the FIRST storyline
The next morning, a radio broadcast seems to be reporting the accident but that is just a complete mislead point. Also the details were not told and Anthony/or Helen turns off the radio. He dresses up and finds the envelope that he got at the agency in his jacket. He opens the envelope revealing a key (which looks a lot like the key from Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Notorious’, but that’s irrelevant). So yes, that’s the key to the sex club we saw at the beginning of the movie. He stares at the key with a look of temptation and his mind starts to go reverse. Helen tells him that his mother called. He tells her okay and starts walking towards the living room to think of a way how he could get out of the house to go to that secret sex club. Helen goes from the shower to the bedroom and then Anthony asks if she has to do something tonight, because he thinks he has to go out. No response, Anthony walks over to the bedroom and….A huge freaking spider stands in front of him and it reacts in fear, aaaaannnnd the end.
I think now would be a good time to explain the spiders in the movie before following up on the second part story of the movie. Nobody saw that last scene coming, and it freaked me the hell out when I saw it for the first time (I don’t like spiders at all). So let me explain it to you what the meaning of it was. For start I am going to show you what the Denis Villenueve the director wrote in that Soundtrack recommendation.
So yes, all the spiders in the movie represent…..women, or at least in the way that Anthony views them, who we know has a deep fear of commitment. The spiderwebs in the real world catch preys. The way Anthony sees it, is like being trapped in the marriage he is in and the responsibility of having a child, as well as remaining faithful. This all comes back to the constant references in the lecture Anthony was telling about dictatorship. He feels he is being unwillingly ruled. Also remember the huge spider walking over Toronto. There is a actual monument in Toronto with that same spider figure, called the Mother Spider. So it’s obvious that the huge spider represents his mother basically because it was shown after the mother meeting. It doesn’t have to be, but i’m going with it anyway since it only makes my point about the spiders more clear. Also the dream where he has a spider-headed woman walking past him is a clue and at that scene you see both Adam and Anthony waking up from the same dream, which confirms my theory about being 2 storylines.
The ending of the actual movie is not the ending of the story at all. The beginning of the movie is actually the beginning of the actual ending of the story. Anthony goes to the sex club and watches woman masturbating themselves and then later revealing a spider, when a woman in high heels walks up and is about to squash the poor spider. Now going back to the ending of the first storyline, where we find out that his wife has changed into a huge freaking spider. You know why the spider reacts in fear of him? Because the spider/wife feels she is being squashed/cheated on again. That’s what Anthony realizes when he is watching the woman squashing it. Now some more evidence that helps me making all those points….do you remember;
- The song in the video store “The Cheater”
- The poster of “Attack of the 50 foot Woman”
- The fascist painting on the wall
Now that I told you the meaning of spiders, let me go further with the second story of the movie with the actual ending. Don’t worry it’s shorter than the first.
The Second Story (The Actual Ending)
So what about that torn photo you see throughout the movie. That torn photo is actually my key evidence that there is a second story after the ending of the actual movie. I have to admit, it is the only object in the movie that haunted me the most and it made me crazy. In every way I tried to think of a theory, I would hit a wall because of that object. I couldn’t place it anywhere at all. Until I discovered the movie was edited in a complete different chronologically order.
So what happens after that sex club scene. It’s obvious that they get divorced and Anthony moves out of the apartment and moves into his other apartment. He becomes Adam, but he is really losing it now. He watches the movie “Where there’s a will there’s a way” again and starts to get paranoid. He repeats the pattern. He looks up the actors profile of Daniel Saint Claire. Searches through his moving boxes and finds the torn photo. Which in the actual movie we see intact at the end when he enters the apartment. Then everything starts again.
Adam: “It is important to remember this, that this is a pattern that repeats itself, throughout history”
Now later on after all the shit happens to him and is going crazy again to have found his ‘double’ we get a new scene in the classroom (No, I didn’t forgot about that one). He comes in rushing and clearly confused about last night, and then quickly out of his head he tells them something different;
Adam: “It was Hegel who said that all the greatest world events happen twice, and then Karl Marx added, the first time is a tragedy and the second time is a farce.”
Later he adds something that slowely fades away from the sound and is hard to hear, but it’s definitely relevant…
Adam: “Now there is a interesting observation, A creative act of memory, to remember something, to remember someone…(inaudible)…it’s always coloured by emotions”
You see what they did there. They actually show a different day a different lecture that actually explains his situation right now. Remember that thing I said about when Mary is in his new apartment. That it was all the same day and it was just a pattern that was repeating in his head. He explained that then to the classroom. Now he is explaining again for the second storyline. He tells them that all the greatest events, meaning his event, happen twice. The guy has gone completely nuts, but he knows very well the situation he is in. He meets up with the double at the motel walking behind a sexy prostitute, looking at her with temptation, showing that he still has those urges. So the moment were the two meet, is basically the ending, from that point on we don’t follow it further anymore as we are going to follow Anthony’s storyline from that point. The second storyline can go anywhere that is completely open to interpretation. But now I can actually confirm in my theory that…
This movie is a never ending cycle.
I know man, it’s a complete mindfuck. You can still be an optimist and think that everything will work out for him when he comes that point of discovering it all again, if that makes you feel better. I’ll leave it open for now.
My upmost respect to Spanish screenwriter Javier Guillón and Canadian director Denis Villenueve for making this absolute masterpiece of cinema. It’s not a movie for everybody that is for sure, and I’m disappointed that the movie didn’t do well in the box office. But I think in the later years when Denis Villeneuve makes a name for himself, this movie will come back and have its glory it deserves.
Again you probably won’t notice at the first watch through, but isn’t that the magic of movies? That it interests you so much that you want to find out more and then suddenly clues starts to show up you’ve never seen before and you start to look or listen at the smallest things and you are puzzling around and putting piece by piece together. To me, that’s magic, that’s mind-blowing, that’s talent and that’s definitely intentionally done. I hoped you enjoyed this analysis. I’m sure not everyone agrees with it. I’m also sure that I didn’t get everything right. But I’m glad I have my own understanding of the movie now, I can finally sleep. I maybe missed some things and if you saw something I completely missed. Please do tell. I’m curious to know.
Enemy definitely joins the list of being one of my favourite movies ever, and is my absolute favourite of 2014. I’m curious to see if Under The Skin by Jonathan Glazer and Interstellar by Christopher Nolan is going to blow my mind, and I’m sure it will. We will see what happens further in 2014.
Thanks for reading.