I appreciate a film that establishes time and space early on. We are quickly transported to the early 2000s in Canada. This is given to us via a relic, the video store, extensive use of house phones, a lack of Googlablity in cell phones, and a giant pair of bug-eye sunglasses. Don’t get me started on that Volvo.
Initially, this film is confusing. It requires some thought and some puzzle skills. I didn’t understand the symbolism of the spiders at first, but that gripping final shot brings it all together. This man, Adam Bell or Anthony Clair, is afraid of the women in his life. He’s afraid of his girlfriend, his wife, and his mom. They are each represented by different stages of his spider fear. His mother is shown to us as a giant looming spider over the city, and his wife is given to us as a spider backed into a corner, fearful. Both of which brew a space where Adam/Anthony does not feel safe.
I get so many Twilight Zone vibes, matched with Annihilation from earlier this year. The film has a haunting and yet totally metaphysical sensation. It becomes increasingly clear that Adam and Anthony are the same person and the film becomes more and more about the depth the mind will dive to hide unpleasantness into the subconscious.
Jake Gyllenhaal successfully places us a world where we forget that the two leading men are acted by the same person. And it’s especially wild and crazy when the same actor is playing the same character that is written as separate characters who believe they are separate characters until the end when one dies and they have to be the same character, and then the one character adopts the life of the other character, which quickly fades into the only characters life.
A24 is a powerhouse. This film is gritty, it’s strange, it’s hard to watch, and it’s good. And Jake Gyllenhall is super hot. Even as a crazy person.
5/5. I’ll watch this again. I’m so impressed with Denis Villeneuve, always.