Enemy Movie Meaning & Plot Summary

Meaning Of The Film Enemy (2013), A Detailed Plot, Explanation Of The Ending. Adam, You Are Your Own Enemy: Why Does The Hero Of The Thriller See Spiders.

Country: Canada, Spain

Genre: drama, thriller

Year of production: 2013

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Sarah Gadon, Melanie Laurent, Isabella Rossellini

tagline: “Beware of meeting yourself”

Director Denis Villeneuve, who previously made strong dramas and recently switched to fantastic blockbusters with his unique author’s vision, in 2013 shot an unusual movie puzzle. It’s Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The meaning of the film Enemy is not banal, not obvious, but in itself is quite simple. True, to get to the bottom of it, you have to show a lot of effort.

Plot and explanation

First of all, so that the search for hidden meaning does not go in the wrong direction, it is worth quoting the words of the director himself. Denis Villeneuve gives this explanation: “I think this is a documentary about my subconscious – well, or about the subconscious of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character. This is a film about a hero who decides to leave his mistress in order to return to his pregnant wife. We are watching this story from the point of view of his subconscious.”

Jake GyllenhaalAnthony (Adam) is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Frame from the film.

“Documentary” – by these words, of course, one should not understand that what is happening in the film “Enemy” is a fixation of reality. Rather, the director wants to say that this is a kind of revelation, a truthful display of his feelings and the feelings of the hero.

So, the content of the picture is indirectly related to reality. The events described in the film do not even take place in the head of the hero. This is a kind of reflection of his worries about relationships with women – his wife and mistress. Therefore, the answer to the question of which of the characters is real and who is not is simple: no one. In the context of what is shown on the screen, they are all projections of the subconscious. However, a description of their interaction will give a lot to understand what really happened.

“Enemy” begins with the words of the hero’s mother, recorded on an answering machine. She worries about him, reminding him in what terrible, in her opinion, conditions her son lives. Immediately flashes a frame with a pregnant Helen. The screen is hung with a plate with the words: “Chaos is an order that has not yet been deciphered.” Actor Anthony carries the key to the secret sex club and enters it with other men. There they watch a woman masturbating. Another girl brings in a tray with a spider and raises her heel over it, preparing to crush it.

We are shown teacher Adam, who is giving a lecture on history at the institute. His first words: “Control, it’s all about control.” He talks about dictatorship, about how such a form of government censors and suppresses manifestations of individuality. He goes on to say, “This has to be remembered. Such a pattern always repeats itself in history.” In another lecture, Adam will quote philosophers: “Hegel said that all great events repeat themselves. Karl Marx added: “The first time it’s a tragedy, the second time it’s a farce.” This recurring pattern will be reflected in the film and, when parsed, will become clear at the end.

Adam's teachingFrame from the film.

We see a web of wires entangling Toronto. Adam is heading home after work and passes graffiti that depicts stamped identical people throwing their hands in a fascist salute – another reference to a dictatorship that suppresses individuality.

Adam’s life is gray. His work is monotonous, his lectures are always about the same thing. His room is empty – there is only a bed and a computer in it. Even relationships and sex with a girl named Mary are boring and monotonous.

At work, a colleague advises Adam to watch a movie with the strange title “If you have a desire, then there is a way to satisfy it.” The hero is looking for a movie at the box office, and the song “Bob Kuban & The In-Men” – “Cheater” (“Traitor”) plays in the background. It is about a man who makes girls fall in love with him and then leaves them, hurting them.

Listen to The Cheater – Bob Kuban & The In-Men on Yandex.MusicAdam barely finishes the movie, after which he begins to aggressively molest Mary. She pushes him away. Adam falls asleep and he dreams of the plot of the viewed tape, where the episodic role of the hotel receptionist is played by a person very similar to him. The hero wakes up and discovers that the doppelgänger really exists – this is actor Daniel St. Clair (in life – Anthony Clair). Adam compares his picture on the film company’s website to his picture in the torn picture. The missing half of the card is probably a girl. Most likely, it was she who tore the photo after the breakup.

Adam comes to the video store for other films with this actor. There is another clue in the background: a poster with a frame from the movie “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”. And in this movie, treason also appears. The traitor is the heroine’s husband.

The hero disguises himself as his doppelgänger and arrives at the film company’s office, where a security guard “recognizes” him and hands him an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential” intended for the actor. The envelope has Anthony’s address and phone number.

Melanie LaurentMelanie Laurent played the role of Mary, the protagonist’s mistress. Frame from the film.

The teacher calls the actor’s home. The woman who answered the phone (pregnant Helen) thinks that Anthony is playing a prank on her, since the voices of the man are identical. After unsuccessful attempts, Adam calls the actor to arrange a meeting. We meet Anthony. He is wealthy, wears stylish clothes, loves blueberries. The wife does not trust him. She asks her husband about the strange call. Anthony tells Helen that his fan called, she laughs – probably the actor is not so famous or not at all. Feeling a trick, the girl accuses her husband of lying with the words: “Are you dating her again?”. Anthony is irritated. Thus, it becomes clear that he previously cheated on his wife and after what happened is under her pressure.

Helen visits her teacher Adam to work. When she looks at him during a break between classes, her eyes are full of pain and grief. Adam asks her how many months the girl is pregnant. She answers “six”. As we learned earlier, actor Anthony did not appear for work for the same amount of time. Helen calls her husband. He picks up the phone, but only when Anthony leaves the girl’s field of vision.

Helen confesses to her husband that she went to see Adam. She is deeply upset and asks Anthony, “What’s going on?”. Anthony replies that he does not understand anything. But Helen, crying, says, “I think you know. You know everything”. Right after that, we see a naked girl with a spider head walking down the hallway. When Adam approaches the room where he agreed to meet Anthony, he sees a girl walking down the hall in the same way.

Doubles meet, are convinced of their similarity, finding even the same scar on their bodies. Adam leaves the room in dismay, after handing Anthony the same envelope. The actor begins spying on the teacher and his girlfriend. On the tram, he assesses Mary from head to toe, but turns away, trying to resist the temptation.

Anthony's wifeThe role of Helen, Anthony’s wife, was played by Sarah Gadon. Frame from the film.

Adam visits his mother, talking about the incident at the hotel. She says that the son cannot have any double and, probably, men have significant differences. She says: “The last thing you need is meeting strange people in hotels. It’s enough that you can’t get along with a woman.” This echoes what we know not about Adam, but about Anthony – he cannot be faithful to his wife. The mother says that it is time for her son to stop building illusions about the career of an actor, because he already has a good job and a good apartment (and we remember that the film began with her words about the apartment, which, on the contrary, is in a deplorable state).

In addition, to the words that Adam does not like blueberries, she replies: “Of course you do.” All this indicates that for her twins are one person. Obviously, this is a teacher who dreams of acting, and is experiencing problems with relationships in marriage. Immediately after this conversation, we see a giant spider walking around Toronto.

Anthony shows up at Adam’s apartment and asks if he slept with his wife Helen. And Adam can’t even answer. The actor insists on switching places with the teacher – he wants to sleep with his girlfriend Mary, after which he is going to disappear from Adam’s life. “Then we’ll be even,” says Anthony.

While the actor fulfills his wish, the teacher goes to Anthony’s apartment, pretending to be him in front of the pregnant Helen. By the way, Adam gets there with the help of a doorman, who is one of the visitors to the sex club shown at the very beginning of the film. The porter says that he would like to visit this place again, but the organizers changed the lock and sent new keys to the club members, one of whom is probably Anthony.

In the actor’s house, Adam sees the same photograph that he had in a torn form. There, Anthony is depicted with his wife, Helen. You can hardly think of another logical interpretation: the point is that both the actor and the teacher are the same person.

Adam and AnthonyAdam and Anthony played by Jack Gyllenhaal. Frame from the film.

Adam and Helen get into bed. Helen asks Adam, “How was the class?” Here it should become completely clear that for her both men are one person.

Anthony has sex with Mary. But she suddenly discovers that her lover is not Adam. After all, he has no trace of the ring on his finger.

Adam cries and asks Helen for forgiveness, she asks him to stay.

We watch Anthony and Mary fight in a moving car, resulting in an accident. On the broken glass of an overturned car, we see a web pattern. This or a similar accident is reported on the radio in Anthony’s apartment the next morning.

Finally, the scene in the finale, which shocked many at the first viewing. Adam-Anthony (the line between the characters is completely erased) opens the envelope and finds the key to the sex club there. It is engraved with the word “Unica” (“One” in Latin – again a hint at the unity of the two hypostases).

Helen reminds the hero of his mother’s call. He says that in the evening he will need to leave on business – obviously, in fact, he is going to a sex club. The hero does not receive an answer. He enters the room and sees a giant spider, which, as if fleeing, shrinks in front of him. Adam-Anthony, looking at this, sighs with a sad and resigned air.

Anthony's momIsabella Rossellini as the protagonist’s mother. Frame from the film.

Adam and Anthony

So, there are no duplicates. There are two sides to one person – a married history teacher who dreamed of becoming an actor. Adam personifies her repressed side, Anthony – another, impudent and unbridled. Throughout the film, we observe their confrontation. They only reunite at the end.

What is causing this fight? Because of the problem of the hero – he is a pathological traitor. He is drawn to other women (visiting a sex club, having a mistress) and cannot do anything about it.


Helen is the hero’s pregnant wife, who watches with pain as her husband struggles and can’t control his unfaithful nature. He pretends that everything is in order and does not know why the girl is so upset. She says: “You know everything.” And there is. The real Adam-Anthony understands everything perfectly, but he cannot suppress his desires. Helen cannot influence him – pressure and appeals to conscience do not help. It remains only to bristle, like a spider, before another betrayal.


Mary is the hero’s mistress. Adam-Anthony leaves her to return to his wife. This gap symbolizes the accident. It seems that in reality this incident took place and as a result of it the hero’s wife found out about the betrayal. The quarrel suggests that the hero is not able to get along with this girl either. He’s probably still attracted to others. When he tries to be with one woman, his relationship is like a daily routine – like the relationship between Adam and Mary is shown.

Ending Explained: What the Spider Scene Means

The meaning of the scenes with spiders is that these creatures represent women in the film. More precisely, the fears of the hero associated with women. He is afraid of losing his freedom, afraid of control, afraid of being dragged into a web of duties. All this promises him the pregnancy of his wife.

The hero has a controlling mother. We see the largest spider in the film precisely after the only scene with it. Probably, the root of the problems was laid in the childhood of the hero, when his freedom was severely suppressed. Most likely, under pressure from his mother, Adam-Anthony became a teacher, not an actor – he found himself a “normal job”. She decided and continues to decide everything for him. Even to the words “I don’t like blueberries,” the mother replies firmly and persistently: “Of course you do,” not tolerating any objections.

The hero is afraid that his wife will become the same “spider”. The apogee of his fears is the final scene with a giant tarantula. But the reaction of Adam-Anthony is interesting. He doesn’t panic at all. He just sighs sadly. Why?

Because one cycle has ended and a new one has begun. This is what the hero spoke about in lectures: the first time is a tragedy, the second and subsequent is already a farce. The man left his pregnant wife, went to his mistress, left her too, decided to accept his family responsibilities (we recall the cobweb on the glass of a crashed car immediately after this decision).

He reunited his personality – “ordered the chaos.” But lust still takes over, no matter how hard he tries. The hero still goes to the ill-fated sex club and meets the resistance of his wife – a bristling spider. Adam-Anthony understands that everything will be repeated. He will struggle with his lust and fears, but nothing will change significantly. He will also change, pretending that everything is in order.

Anthony with his pregnant wifeFrame from the film.

Interestingly, such a clue and such an explanation of the ending is quite at odds with the idea of ​​the novel “The Double” by José Saramago, based on which the film Enemy was shot. Events in the works overlap, but in the book there are no spiders and keys to the sex club at all. The emphasis there is placed, rather, on the desire of a person to be unique, unrepeatable.

The meaning of the film

What is the essence of the film Enemy? And in general: who is the enemy here? Villeneuve deliberately did not make the title of the film identical to the title of Saramago’s novel. Precisely because the title of the picture emphasizes the issues raised by the director, not the writer. Adam-Anthony in the film is his own enemy. His war took place in his own subconscious. And it will happen again. The hero can only sigh sadly – they say, nothing can be done. And each viewer will decide for himself: is it really so hopeless?

Add a comment