The Enemy (2021)

January 26th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Wri/Dir: Stephan Streker | Cast: Jeremie Renier, Alma Jodorowsky, Emmanuelle Bercot | Belgium/France Thriller, 105′

Part romantic thriller, part prison drama, the early scenes of The Enemy feel like something Terrence Malick may have made earlier in his career, but is now brought to you by Belgian critic turned director Stephan Streker.

Jeremie Reiner plays lovesick Rottweiler Louis Durieux convinced he’s being cuckolded by his flirty wife Maeva (Alma Jodorowsky) while they frolic through a series of emotionally charged encounters in beachside Ostend, enjoying rampant sex and winning big at the Casino.

But the loved-up atmosphere soon descends into a police procedural after Louis wakes up to tragedy and is forced to hire the services of a lawyer (Bercot as Beatrice Rondas) to defend him in a murder case that grows increasingly opaque when the press (as usual) blow it up out of all proportion. Meanwhile, Louis languishes in prison where he meets some ‘real’ people, sharing a cell with a colourful character called Pablo Pasarela de la Pena (Maritaud).

The film goes off the rails in the drawn out final act where Rondas tries to prove her client’s innocence. Trouble is, Louis is such a repellent, charmless individual and the cartoonish Renier does nothing to make us care whether he’s guilty or not. Zacharie Chasseriaud almost saves the day in an underwritten role as his son, Julien, injecting some much needed charisma into the torpid final stages. 

More fascinating to watch than the film itself is Renier’s hairstyle which looks like the turbo-charged tonsor of a medieval dauphin. Lacquered up to within an inch of its life to start with, it then takes on a different guise in every single scene, literally commanding your entire attention and getting it in lieu of a gripping plot-line. MT

ON RELEASE IN FRANCE

 

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