What Really Happened in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Enemy Movie?

***Major Spoiler Alert***Do not read this if you don’t want the movie spoiled for you. It contains major spoilers.


We have met the enemy and he is us.” –Pogo by Walt Kelly, 1971

What Really Happened in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Enemy Movie?

In Enemy, both men (Adam and Anthony) are same man, a married history professor who acts on the side, and fantasizes about having an affair. In the end of the movie, in his fantasy, his girlfriend is killed, but he quickly turns back to his old ways (represented by the most scary movie ending of all time, the giant spider).

Who is his girlfriend?

The girlfriend is not real. When the door buzzes, he doesn’t get up, he goes into his head. She brings over food to his crappy apartment, hangs out, then leaves without a word. It’s all a fantasy.

How do I know they are the same man?

When the two men meet, the first meet the room they meet in is number “221”, which means “two to one”. His mother says he has “a nice apartment, a good job” and that he should quit his dream of acting. When he is with his wife, she asks, “How was school?” She asks him about having an affair.

Reasons why they might not be the same man?

Blueberries – He tells his wife he wants blueberries, but he tells his mother he doesn’t like blueberries.

Unknown Name/Location to Wife? – Anthony makes up the name “Adam Bell” and writes it on a note for his wife to find. She Googles it, goes to the school, and he meets her there (as Adam), but acts (he likes to act) like he doesn’t know her. She can’t believe how far he’s going to perpetuate this fantasy.

Where does he actually live? Which apartment?

In the beginning of the movie we hear Adam’s mother’s voicemail where she sounds Russian like the other guy’s mother where she asks of his “new” apartment “how can you live like that?” and then we see a picture of the pregnant wife sitting on the bed in Adam’s apartment. She only refers to him as “Darling,” but he’s clearly sitting in Adam’s Volvo.

There are two apartments, one “good” and one “bad”. Because he’s a school teacher and acts on the side, because of the way his mother described it (“how can you live like that?”), and because of the shot of his pregnant wife in the background, it’s more likely that he and his wife actually live in the bad one.

Although in the movie, the times we see his wife she in the “good” apartment. This could mean the nice apartment is a fantasy too. But in the movie, his mind places his girlfriend/affair in the bad/real apartment and his actual wife in his good/fake apartment. This could mean he wishes he could provide more to his wife.

How do we know when we’re in a fantasy and when we’re in real life?

There is a definite yellow hue when we see Adam, the school teacher who is with the “girlfriend” in the “bad” apartment and a more ‘normal’, white light when we see Anthony, the actor and his “good” apartment, but this isn’t like the green tint in The Matrix movies. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one is fantasy and the other is real because both have elements of each.

One ‘totem’ (to use Inception vocabulary) is his wedding ring (which just happened to be Cobb’s totem). Adam, the school teacher, doesn’t wear it, but Anthony, the actor does (except for when he’s playing Adam towards the end of the movie – it’s also partially responsible for the ‘crash’ that kills his girlfriend and ‘ends’ the affair).

If this topic interests you, read about more movies that question reality.

What are some motifs in the film?

Hallways – the beginning of the film starts with Adam walking down the hallway with a key while a guard walks behind him. When he sneaks into his own apartment, he doesn’t have the key and has the same security guard behind him who does have the key. These scenes are shot very specifically for the audience to draw the connection between the unknown guy at the beginning of the film at the club and his security guard, but you’d have to watch it again to fully get the connection.

Is there any other scenes that we’re exactly as they appeared in the movie?

In the teacher’s lounge, Adam is asked: “Are you a movie guy? In your free time I mean?” Adam responds, “I don’t know,”, but what I postulate is that the guy asking isn’t real. Here’s why: Adam tells him about a movie he’s recently seen recently that he really liked that he just happened to be in: “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way”.

On his way home he stops by a movie store to see if they have that movie, but they don’t have it. He ends up watching it anyway because he already owns a copy. Even the actor uses a fake name: Daniel Saint Claire. His real name is Anthony Claire.

What are some symbols used in Enemy?

Street Art – On his way home from work, he passes by a mural with the same man drawn multiple times. Behind that mural is the movie store.

Video Cameras – Even the security cameras don’t follow him around. When Adam is checking out Anthony’s apartment, he looks at the security cameras. If he didn’t want to be seen, he should have looked down, not directly at them for so long The director specifically decided to include them in the movie as the shot pans to include them and shows Adam staring at them as he walked by. As an actor, this is a symbol for how he’s not on camera (not working as an actor) as much as he wants to be.

Phones – Adam has a cell phone. He ignores it when his mother is calling at his apartment, but picks it up when Anthony calls him at school, but when he’s calling his wife’s apartment he uses a pay phone first and then a land line at his apartment. Pay phones are often used during affairs, which was highlighted in the movie by the same name.

Any other reasons why Adam and Anthony are the same person?

  • He calls his wife to act like a stalker to sow seeds of doubt about someone calling later on. He’s not home when she calls because he is him.
  • When she visits him at school she calls his cell phone, he answers, but he’s out of sight.
  • When Adam calls Anthony he says he spoke to his “wife”, but how did he know she was his wife?
  • What does the director of the movie think the film is about?

    The director states it’s about a man who decides to leave his mistress and go back to his pregnant wife. I don’t think he actually had two apartments or that he actually left his wife. I think he was just absent from her emotionally. Here’s why: After he turns off the radio after hearing about the accident from his fantasy. He wakes up when thinking about his affair and tells his wife, “I’m sorry.”

    What do you think happened in Enemy?

Mexican Food Principle

Mexican Food is great, but it can teach us lessons far beyond gastrointestinal delight. I’m talking about the Mexican Food Principle.

Mexican food’s great, but it’s essentially all the same ingredients, so there’s a way you’d have to deal with all these stupid questions. ‘What is nachos?‘ ‘Nachos? It’s a tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.’ ‘Oh, well then what is a burrito?‘ ‘A tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.’ ‘Well then what is a tostada?‘ A tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.” -Jim Gaffigan

When CBS News reporter, Amanda Schupak, was describing Google’s new modular phone she said, “It sounds like a taco truck. But instead of picking a filling, sauce and side, your choices are a camera, a speaker and an extra battery.”

This is a metaphor we can all understand. There are basic building blocks to make something ‘delicious’. In the kitchen, it’s cheese, meat, and vegetables. In a smartphone it’s a touchscreen, WiFi, and bluetooth. Sometimes you want more or less of one or the other, but it’s never going to be bad. That’s the Mexican Food Principle.

Mexican Food Principle

Mexican food is great, but it is all the same, it’s almost a conspiracy. It’s almost like they had a meeting 200 years ago in Mexico City and one guy stood up and he was like, ‘Hey, the reason I got everyone here is pretty simple, I figured we could rename this one entree seven times and sell it to the North Americans. The French said it would be a good idea.” -Jim Gaffigan

This is not a conspiracy, it’s standardization. Peter Drucker said the greatest invention of the twentieth century was container shipping. Containers allowed ships, ports, and equipment to move easier than the random assortment of crates and boxes that preceded it. But the Mexican Food Principle isn’t just for standardization, it can also be used to create new outputs from the same inputs.

Taco Bell is for Closers

Taco Bell is for Closers

SmartBrief on Social Media editor, Jesse Stanchak first coined the term in May of 2013 when referring to the “Mexican Food Principle” of repurposing content. “It’s pretty simple: Mexican food takes the same core ingredients, mixes them up and packages them in different ways. You can do the same thing with your content. If you do a good job remixing and reusing your content, your audience won’t see it as leftovers.”

Forbes’ contributor, Nadia Arumugam, calls the Mexican Food Principle of product development, “Breeding“, which, “Has been seriously neglected in previous brainstorming sessions for new product development.” James Altucher calls this process of coming up with new ideas, “Idea Sex“.

Whether you’re trying to create a new breakfast menu item by using a waffle as a tortilla or a doughnut as a bun, you’re using the Mexican Food Principle.

Freestyle – A Country Musical

This jukebox musical is on Spotify. I’ve weaved a story out of the following country songs. It’s something I do for fun. Previously I’ve done it with pop/rock songs, but this is my my first attempt at country (by request).

Listen to Freestyle on Spotify

[Act I]

1. Freestyle by Lady Antebellum – Thursday night, Charles, Pete and Kelley are rolling down a river road in a Chevy van listening to their favorite songs from Fleetwood Mac and Macklemore.

2. Down This Road by Cam – Unbeknownst to them, Hillary passes the boys as she is driving to her childhood home. She lives in the city now, but has come home for a long weekend to visit her parents.

As night falls on the town, one by one the lights go out. Just before Hillary turns her light off we see her pour an engagement ring out of a white paper envelope and look at it through the light.

3. Drinking Class by Lee Brice – A rooster crows. Charles gets up for work on Friday while looking forward to going out to drink after work with some friends. To him, every night is “Friday”.

As Charles opens his lunch pail and begins eating his lunch, he secretly opens a small paper notebook full of plans and diagrams for opening up his own business, but quickly puts it away when someone walks by.

4. Everything to You by Caitlyn Smith – Hillary is eating dinner with her father and she notices how gray his hair has become and she wants to tell him about the ring, but instead sings her father a song.

She gets a phone call from “Joe”, but she declines the call.

5. Country Bumpkin by Cal Smith – Her father detects that something might be wrong so he tells her a story about how he met her mother and what she said to him on her death bed. He wanted to know that they had a good life.

6. Neon Light by Blake Shelton – When Hillary finally listens to the voicemail, she hears Joe singing about how he misses her. He tells her he was looking for a sign and he’s finally found one, in the window of a bar.

[Act II]

7. Medicine by Shakira, Blake Shelton – Hillary tells her dad she’s going out for the night and she heads to bar for “medicine”. At the same time, Joe is sitting at a bar back in the city.

At the bar she runs into Charles and before he can hide his notes, Hillary asks him about them. He quickly hides them before recognizing her and embracing her with a big hug. They begin to talk about old times.

8. When the Right One Comes Along by Striking Matches – Hillary explains to Charles that she’s only home for the weekend to visit her dad, but the real reason is that she’s running away from her boyfriend, Joe, who asked her to marry her.

9. Mess is Mine by Vance Joy – Charles tells her that he will take her problems from her for the night and that her “mess” is his. After the song, Charles asks Hillary to sing karaoke with him for fun.

10. Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys by TR Dallas – Charles chooses “Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and eventually the whole bar joins in with them as they sing together.

11. Dirt by Florida Georgia Line – Charles asks Hillary if she’d like to take a walk and as he’s walking he kicks the dirt and starts telling Hillary about a time when he almost got married, but didn’t.

12. Remind Me by Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood – Hillary asks Charlie if he was talking about her. She reminds him that they used to date and it was actually him who took her to the airport when she first left town.

Charlie asks her to remind him. She said, “We didn’t sleep. I remember I’d wake up in one of your old t-shirts. You’d kiss my neck. I can remember that, but I want you to remind me.”

13. Drunk Americans by Toby Keith – Instead of kissing her, Charlie says their all just “Drunk Americans” and that, “We just came here to drink.” He walks back into the bar and begins singing with all of the people in the bar.


14. Can’t Get Away from a Good Time by Logan Mize – Saturday afternoon Charles is working on his truck when his friend, Pete, stops by on his way to the gas station. He tells Pete how he “can’t get away from a good time.”

15. Feelin’ It by Scotty McCreery – Pete drops off Charles and calls up his girlfriend, Kelley to say he’s feelin’ like going out to the beach this afternoon. She’s friends with Hillary and invites her to the beach.

Pete texts Charles to meet him there that night for beer and a bonfire. Charles responds “I can’t get away from a good time,” and we see him incorporating his new business online before grabbing his keys.

16. Make You Miss Me by Sam Hunt – Hillary calls Joe and tells him she wants to break up. He says he will make her miss him and that she’ll miss sleeping in his t-shirt. She puts down the phone and cries into her hands.

When she pulls her hands down she sees her bikini laying on the bed.

17. Sunshine & Whiskey by Frankie Ballard – Pete sings to his girlfriend on the beach, reminiscing about the good times they had cruising around in his Chevy. Charles arrives and sees Hillary coming out of the water.

18. Cruise – Remix by Florida Georgia Line, Nelly – Charlie asks Hillary if she’d like to take a ride in his Chevy and they go for a cruise. Charlie tells her he doesn’t want to be a blue collar worker anymore.

19. Where Your Road Leads by Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood – Hillary thanks him for being there for her last night and tells him she’s broken up with her boyfriend. She said she would help him with his dreams if he would love her.

20. Love You Like That by Canaan Smith – Charles tells Hillary that he can love her the way she wants him to and they ride off into the country sunset in his Chevy. As the taillights grow dim, the music fades into the night.

1 Hour, 12 Min

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