Enemy (2013) Ending Explained By Director (In Detail)

Explanation Of The Plot & The Hidden Meaning Of The Film. Enemy is a 2013 psychological thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, who also directed the film Arrival. Against the background of the movie Enemy, Arrival looks pretty simple. Enemy stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon in the lead roles. The story of the film is about two identical people who run into each other. It’s a good movie that makes you think a little.

what happens in the movie?

Let’s get one thing clear right away. Adam and Anthony (both played by Jake) are physically the same person. Some parts of the movie actually take place, while the rest takes place in Adam/Anthony’s subconscious. Looking at the poster of the film, you will see the main character with his mind, drawn with the help of urban images. There is a thin blurry line that separates the real and the fictional in the hero’s head. Enemy is about the struggle Jake’s character goes through trying to save his relationships and other elements of his life.

Which character is the real one: Adam or Anthony?

You can’t single out just one. The parts of Anthony and Adam combine to form a true single character. The rest of Anthony and Adam are his desires and regrets.

Although wealthy, smart, confident and well-groomed, Anthony cannot bring himself to enter into a relationship with his wife, who is now giving birth to her six-month-old baby. Anthony has previously cheated on his wife, and as a result, his wife is suspicious of him. He aspires to be an actor, but apart from three small roles, he has not been able to achieve much success.

On the other hand, Adam is dirty, timid and boring. However, he does have a girlfriend to whom he is faithful (though it is a lifeless relationship, mostly physical). He has an honorary career as a history teacher.

The meaning of spiders in the movie Enemy

I bet the last scene gave you a few sleepless nights, just like me. Who would have expected an unremarkable scene to end with a giant spider in the bedroom! But that’s not the only time a spider appears in this movie. The film also shows a large spider that roams the city. The sex club has an opening scene with a soon to be stepped on tarantula. There is a woman who has the head of a spider. There are also indicative networks of wires and a pattern of cobwebs on the windshield.

So why spiders? If you notice, movies and video games use spiders as an element of fear. Movies like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Games like Skyrim. What makes a spider scary to me is the way it catches its prey. This sticky web renders the spider’s prey helpless. All that remains for the victim of a spider who has fallen into a trap is to wait until you are swallowed alive. So how do spiders relate to the movie? It has to do with how Jake’s character feels. He feels trapped and helpless in the web of the responsibilities that surround him. He feels like he’s being eaten. However, the responsibilities that have fallen upon him are the women in his life. Thus, in a sense, each of the spiders represents the woman in his life.

Characters from Enemy


To simplify, let’s assume that Anthony is the real name of Jake’s character. Adam is the name of a personality that was created in his subconscious. Anthony wants to be a movie star. He wears expensive clothes, lives in a fancy apartment, has a fancy bike, works. But his film promotions are just three tiny roles. He is married to Helen. Anthony’s main weakness is women. He cannot be committed to his relationship with Helen. He often cheats on her. When Helen finds out, their relationship is thrown into turmoil. Anthony stops cheating on Helen and they reconcile.

Time passes. Anthony can’t stay loyal to Helen. He continues to commit adultery. Helen got pregnant and is now 6 months pregnant. Anthony leaves his acting hopes and starts working as a history teacher. The film’s opening scene in a sex club testifies to his adultery.

This is Anthony moving away from his commitment to marriage. The scene where he squashed the tarantula shows that he is squashing a commitment that makes him feel trapped – a wife and a child. In my opinion, in the sex club, only Anthony’s imagination cheats on his wife. In fact, Anthony just has a different romance. Notice when his wife asks him, “Are you lying to me?” Anthony is in no hurry to say no. He stammers, after which his wife asks him: “Do you see her again?”.


However, Anthony does not sleep with Mary. The Mary we see in Enemy is just part of his subconscious. Mary represents the temptations and carnal relationships that Anthony has with other women behind his wife’s back. This is the reason why we are never given to understand who Mary is.


Adam is a history teacher. This is his real job, which Anthony actually does. Anthony finds this extremely mundane and associates this life with an alternate personality named Adam. Anthony considers himself an interesting guy, and all of his parts that he does not like or finds boring, he passes on to his alter ego named Adam.


This character gives a good idea of ​​what is actually going on in the movie. The movie Enemy begins with a voice message from the mother:

Hello Darling. This is your mom. Thank you for showing me your new apartment. Um… I’m worried about you. I mean how can you live like this? In any case, call back? Let’s be friends again. I love you.

Later, Adam meets his mother and she tells him this:

You are my only son. I am your only mother. You have a respectable job, a nice apartment. I think you should give up this fantasy of being a third-rate actor.

So why such a difference in her opinions? Well, the first time could be many months ago. This may have been at a time when Anthony was unlucky and lived in a crappy little place. The second statement is much later, when he became a teacher (a respectable job). At the moment, he has not acted for a long time, and his mother does not approve of his acting career. His mother also says:

You have enough problems with one woman, don’t you?

This indicates the difficulties her son had with his wife. She is referring to the problems he has with his marriage.

Explanation of the plot of the film Enemy

Adam the Teacher

The film’s story begins from Adam’s point of view. He is shown as a teacher with a boring and repetitive life. Even sex is shown to be repetitive. Adam in class says the following:

It’s all about control. In ancient Rome, the people were given bread and a spectacle. They distracted people with entertainment. Information censorship

This is evidence that Anthony is censoring information from himself. He feels in control, not letting himself know that his life and work is not really as vibrant as he would like. His reality is the boring life of a history teacher, and Mary represents the meaningless things he has.

Film proposal

Later, a co-worker invites Adam to watch a movie. Adam says he doesn’t go and doesn’t like movies. The film suggested by a colleague is: “Where there is a will, there is a way out.” In this film, Anthony plays a small role. This “proposal” of the film is a light awakening in the deep recesses of the mind. A small trigger that gives Adam’s personality the ability to understand that he is related to Anthony.

Aggression with Mary

Adam is watching a movie. He returns to bed with Mary. He is aggressive in bed with Mary, which has never happened before. There is a slight shift in Adam’s personality here. The subconscious gradually begins to connect with the main personality of Anthony, who is distinguished by assertiveness. This is a very delicate moment with Mary. But immediately he becomes Adam again. This scene with Mary takes place in his subconscious. In reality it doesn’t exist. We will talk about it later.

Adam sees Anthony in the movie

Adam remembers a scene from the movie where he sees someone who looks like himself. He checks the film’s credits to find information about an actor named Daniel. Daniel is the pseudonym that Anthony uses for his films. Adam searches the internet for Daniel and finds pictures of him. Adam uses part of his photo to make sure he looks like the actor.

The torn photo is part of a photo of Anthony with his wife. Remember, this happens in the subconscious. The personality of Adam suppressed the existence of his wife. In his subconscious, Helen had been removed. This is the censorship of information, which was mentioned at the beginning of the film.

Looking for Anthony

On the Internet, Adam gets information about the agency that Anthony works with and writes down his address. Adam visits the agency. Anthony as Adam’s identity goes to the agency. He is greeted by the guards, who see him as Anthony and say that he has not been seen for 6 months. That’s how long Helen has been pregnant. This means that Anthony gave up on his acting career as soon as Helen got pregnant. He got another job that gave him a steady income. The guard hands Adam an envelope. This envelope is a temptation. We will return to this at the end.

Call Helen

Adam gets Anthony’s address and phone number from the envelope. He calls the phone number. Helen picks up the call. She hears Adam. But it’s actually Anthony as the person of Adam. So she recognizes his voice and calls Anthony. Adam cannot understand how the lady on the other side is mixing his voice with another person who looks like him. So he realizes that not only does he sound like this Anthony, he also sounds like him. He hangs up.

Call Anthony

Adam later calls Anthony. This part happens in his subconscious. Adam wants to meet Anthony. We are immediately shown Anthony speaking on the phone. When Helen asks him if he lied about who was on the line, Anthony tries to answer. Perhaps he regularly lies to her about certain phone calls. He is cheating on his wife. He may not have done anything this time, but usually he does. That’s where he stutters from. Helen therefore begins to blame him.

Looking for Adam

Later, Anthony is already looking for Adam on the Internet. In secret, Helen looks into Anthony’s trouser pockets for information on Adam. She also looks at Adam. They both find a university where he teaches.

The next day, Anthony calls Adam and says he wants to meet (subconscious conversation again). Helen shows up at the university to see Adam. She is talking to Adam and has a broken heart. Notice that Helen is not surprised, she is upset. She sees Anthony speaking and acting like Adam. She must understand that this is his alternate personality away from home. He is compassionate and communicates sweetly with Helen. He takes care of her pregnancy and asks how far she has come. Helen calls Anthony on the phone. Only after Adam is out of Elena’s line of sight does the phone pick up. Anthony answers. This is enough for Elena to make sure her husband has multiple personalities. This scene is no longer happening in the subconscious. Helen is a real character. This scene confirms

Helen suspects multiple identities

Back at home, Anthony shows up after a run. Helen is upset. She later tells Anthony that she went to see this guy who called him on the phone. She says he had Anthony’s voice and looks exactly like him. She asks Anthony “what’s going on?”. When he says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she replies “I think you do.” So Helen tries to deal with her husband’s alternate personality. She doesn’t know what to say to her.

Naked Spider Woman

In a short scene, we are shown a naked lady walking by. She was sexy, but she had a spider head. Spiders again! This dream sequence simply highlights the role different women play in Anthony’s life. This makes him feel trapped in their webs. Both Anthony and Adam are aware of this. You know this because Adam wakes up alone and Anthony wakes up next to Helen.

Anthony meets Adam

Adam drives up to the place where Anthony decided to meet. It seems to be a hotel where people usually show up with an escort. We see a sexy lady who looks like a woman with a spider head walk past Adam. Perhaps Anthony came here for his nightly parties.

Adam is waiting for Anthony to show up. They meet. While the hotel room may be real, the meeting is not physical. It’s going on in Anthony’s head. Anthony and Adam compare their appearance, voice and hands. Anthony asks Adam about the scar and realizes that they are both identical. Adam’s personality is terrified by his appearance in reality. Adam gives the envelope to Anthony and leaves. Agency cover.

Following Mary

Afterwards, Anthony returns home and tells his wife that the “boyfriend” won’t call again. Helen remains in fear. Anthony follows Adam and spots Maria. She is the temptation that Anthony begins to follow. He can’t help but stare at her and watch her. This is happening in his mind.

Adam and Mother

Adam goes to meet his mother. We’ve already covered this before. It should be noted here that Adam does not like blueberries, but his mother insists that he does. Immediately after this, a large spider is shown walking past the city. This spider is a representation of his mother. Anthony feels trapped in the expectations his mother has for him – work, health, whatever.

Anthony vs Adam

Anthony is in front of a mirror practicing the speech he is about to give to Adam. It’s symbolic to look at yourself given the strange situation he’s in. He plans to scare Adam’s subconscious to get Mary. He wants to succumb to the temptation that Mary will provide one last time. Here’s what Anthony asks Adam: “Did you sleep with my wife?” Adam cannot answer with a clear “No”. He is being intimidated. Anthony continues…

You dragged my wife into this. So now I’ll pull your girlfriend in the photo. Do you want me to disappear from your life? This is what will happen first. You give me your clothes and your car. I’ll take your girlfriend for a little romantic evening. Tomorrow I will bring her home, and I will come back here to return all your things, and I will disappear from your life forever. Then we’ll be even.

Adam’s personality does the right thing, which is in line with his future duties with the birth of the child. Adam should be with Helen, not Anthony. Anthony wants to tempt Mary one last time and then leave forever.

change of persons

Anthony poses as Adam and leaves with Mary (this all happens in the subconscious). Adam goes home to Helen (in real life). When Adam appears near the house, a guy meets him and lets him into the house. On the way to the apartment, he is told about a new set of keys to the sex club. This man was in the club in the first scene too. Like Anthony, this man also indulges in other women. Adam, however, does not know him, only Anthony does. Adam’s personality first comes to Anthony’s house, he doesn’t know which door is his.

Adam and Helen

At the house, Adam changes into Anthony’s clothes. He notices a full size photo of himself with Helen. Adam’s personality gradually becomes mainstream in real life. Anthony makes his way into the depths of the mind and is with Mary in a subconscious hotel room. Adam is nice to Helen. She probably feels the same way she once did when she first met Anthony before his deception began. She suspects that the man in her bedroom is actually a history teacher due to his mannerisms, and he also remembers that she is 6 months pregnant. She asks him to go to bed. He obeys. She looks at him longingly. She then asks, “Did you have a good day at school?” This confirms that Helen knows it’s Adam.

Anthony and Mary – car accident

In the subconscious, Mary notices that she is not with Adam. She sees the ring on his finger. She is furious. Anthony tries to calm her down. Adam wakes up in real life and enters the living room. In his head, Mary gets mad at Anthony and they leave the hotel. They are driving back. Adam begins to slowly remember all of Anthony’s activities. He cries. He apologizes to Helen.

In their subconscious, Anthony and Mary start fighting in the car. Mary is annoyed that Adam is not with her. In real life, Helen says to Adam, “I want you to stay.” Helen and Adam begin to make love. Mary tells Anthony that he is not a man. Anthony gets angry and when he asks Mary to get out of the car, they get into an accident. It is assumed that Mary and Anthony died in the subconscious. Adam is free from his temptation (which symbolizes Mary) and that part that is easily tempted (- Anthony). When we see a close-up of the crashed car, we see how the glass is shattered in a web pattern. This indicates that the result of this accident is just another web.

The reason I emphasized that Mary is not real is because of this accident. Anthony and Mary face this accident while Adam is safe at home. This shows that the accident only occurs within the mind. Mary is only inside the mind. The news talks about an accident, but the radio is turned off before more information can be heard. It can be assumed that this was another real accident.


Adam finds the envelope he gave earlier to Anthony. He opens it to find the key. This is the key to temptation. Access to the sex club. Once we start thinking that Adam is a good guy who is able to fight and overcome temptation, everything changes. The key to temptation will soon take up over him. He asks, “Helen, did you have anything planned tonight? Because I think I should leave.” He instantly returns to his ways of adultery. Remember his lecture. And it’s important to understand that this is a pattern that repeats itself throughout history. This has probably happened more than once.

What does the spider mean at the end of the movie?

Now for the scene that left me sleepless. Adam calls for Helen and goes to the room she was in. And what do we see? Instead, a giant spider. Supernatural ending? Is the world filled with giant spiders? Hell no. This giant spider represents Elena. Note that the spider is scared as hell. Adam seems tough as a cucumber. He doesn’t have the face you would see when your wife turns into a giant spider. Helen is the one who spins the big web of responsibilities for Anthony/Adam. Hence, she is a giant spider. Adam/Anthony see XHelen as a covering spider. Fear represents Adam/Anthony’s knowledge of how he is destroying Elena. He returns to the “club” and will enjoy watching the “crushed tarantula”. The contraction of a tarantula indicates that it is crushing a commitment, what makes him feel trapped is a wife and a child. He admits this with an open face and returns to his adulterous ways. As he says in his lectures earlier, “And then, Karl Marx added, the first time it was a tragedy, and the second time it was a farce.” Adam/Anthony admits that this is a repeat and it’s not a tragedy. He is his own enemy.

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