It turns out I have a very low tolerance for films that challenge me.
A more accurate statement would be that I have a very low tolerance for films that challenge me, and in doing so give me next to nothing in the way of figuring it out on my own. That happened last weekend, when I saw Enemy, a 2013 film from Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal that debuted at TIFF this last September.
I saw the film on Saturday, mostly because I had missed it during the Festival, and because I thought it would be a smart move to see it before I went to the In Conversation With the two of them the next day. I’m so glad that I did, because I have never left a film so confused in my life. And that was after a very, very thorough search for any and all websites that would explain to me what the hell I had just seen. Most kept it secret, either because they didn’t want to ruin it, or because it made no freakin’ sense. A few mentioned that Villeneuve has been very vague about the spider imagery in the film, and that, of course, is what confused me most. After reading a synopsis of the film this movie was based on, I was prepared to do something I never thought I would: I was going to ask a question in front of 500 people and reveal myself as an idiot.
Thankfully, someone else did it for me. About a hour and a half into the conversation, where Villeneuve and Gyllenhall were hilarious, self deprecating,and incredibly engaging, someone asked if Villeneuve could expand on the spiders. I turned in my seat and gave this man a Look, thankful for the prospect of getting an answer without having to ask for one myself. And Villeneuve was fairly candid, or as candid as he’s ever been, mentioning that a theme in the book was that of motherhood, and the connection for him in the film is the psychological representation spiders convey.
I won’t suggest that I knew exactly what he was talking about, but it helped – I at least feel like I’m closer to understanding the film, or maybe just closer to knowing that I’m okay with being in the dark. Either way, if Villeneuve and Gyllenhall want to make a third movie together, I’ll watch it – and be on the lookout for subtle yet disturbing maple syrup references.