A PERFECT ENEMY (2020)
Directed by Kike Maíllo
Screened at Grimmfest May Madness Virtual Film Festival 2021
A Perfect Enemy will be available on Amazon, Google & iTunes from 5th July
After giving a presentation in Paris, architect Jeremiasz Angust heads to the airport to catch his flight. On the way, he stops and offers a lift to a young woman named Texel who too is travelling to the airport. However, in providing a good deed, Jeremiasz ends up missing his own flight and is forced to spend some time in the airport lounge whilst he waits for the next one. To his surprise, he once again bumps into Texel who follows him throughout the airport in order to share her story with him, whether he wants to hear it or not. What starts off as a straight-forward story soon turns sinister, and unable to escape the bothersome stranger, he begins to regret giving her a lift and wonders if their meeting was by chance after all…
Based on the novel Cosmétique de l’ennemi (The Enemy’s Cosmetique) by Amélie Nothomb, A PERFECT ENEMY is a mesmerising, stylishly-shot mystery thriller that grabs your attention from the get-go. Most of the action takes place in an airport, which, although a public place, seems to exaggerate the claustrophobic qualities of the film. Between these shots, we’re treated to a series of flashback memories as Texel Textor discusses her past in three separate stories, showcasing school life to adult relationships she attempts to forge, ultimately ending in Paris.
When we meet A PERFECT ENEMY‘s main character, Jeremiasz, he’s a highly successful architect who’s work can be seen all over the world. However, he informs an audience at his conference that he’s decided to work on projects that will change lives instead of creating grand designs for those with the deepest pockets. He appears to be a clever and thoughtful individual, who’s skills and in-demand architecture has landed him a luxurious life in which he can now afford to pick and choose the projects he works on. When he comes across the confident, perky Texel, he thinks nothing more than that she’s a young woman with a taste for adventure like most young travellers. However, wherever he goes, she seems to follow, and despite wishing to do his work on his tablet undisturbed, she’s intent on him being her audience. Wishing her to simply go away, he humours her for a while but it seems even that isn’t enough.
Texel Textor is a young woman who doesn’t appear at all threatening on the surface, but as she seemingly stalks and harasses Jeremiasz, it’s hard to see her than anything other than a dangerous loon. Her excitement as she tells her disturbing stories of her past, and the way she pushes herself into Jeremiasz’s space make not only Jeremiasz uncomfortable, but us, the viewer, as well. Who is this woman and what the hell does she want? That’s what’s going through Jeremiasz’s head when it appears his good deed for the day has turned into the worst decision he could have made that afternoon.
Throughout the film, it’s difficult what to make of everything coming out of Texel’s mouth. Is it truth? Is it lies? Or is she completely cuckoo? She’s an enigma that, like Jeremiasz, we’re trying to work out. What’s her goal? And what is her obsession with Jeremiasz, or is he just the latest mark in one of her warped games? Initially, she’s difficult to suss out which makes the ensuing scenes that ever-more interesting to decipher. Athena Strates gives an intense performance as chatter-box Texel whilst Tomasz Kot charms as the quiet, thoughtful, successful architect who just wants a minute’s peace.
A PERFECT ENEMY has European styling stamped all over it with exquisite shots, lighting and setup, all complimenting its twist-and-turn of a mystery that will keep you captivated to the very end. From top to bottom, it’s a visual treat with the style of filmmaking reminding me of the work of Giuseppe Tornatore.
One of my favourite bits in the movie focuses in on a model replica of the airport; an airport that Jeremiasz had helped to design. We see figures representing those in the airport and what looks like blood-stains on the floor of the recreated miniature structure. As the camera lingers on this model and its ever-changing environment, you find yourself being drawn evermore into the story, trying to work out how it all pieces together.
A PERFECT ENEMY is quite an intimate film in many respects, not least because most of the action and dialogue happens between two people, whilst Marta Nieto and Dominique Pinon provide quality supporting characters. It’s almost as if we’re a fly on the wall or eavesdropping into Jeremiasz and Texel’s conversation but once you’re a part of it, you’re unable to escape. I’m not shy to admit, it’s frightening and difficult to bare witness to at times. The way in which it is presented on-screen is a triumph and consumes the viewer completely, giving a feeling as though you’re being suffocated and all you want to do is come up for air.
If you like thrillers that keep you on your toes, then A PERFECT ENEMY is an absolute must-see. It’s sexy, dangerous and disturbing and is sure to make its mark.