A Perfect Enemy movie review: terminal rage

MaryAnn’s quick take: Ridiculous excuse for a thriller — obvious, preposterous, ultimately banal — piles on psychological absurdities as it builds from a maddening middle to an enraging crescendo of misogynist nonsense.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
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Prominent architect Jeremiasz Angust (Tomasz Kot: Cold War), on his way home from Paris to Warsaw, misses his flight and gets sucked into conversation with a punky, persistent 20something with the implausible name of Texel Textor (Athena Strates). Though he asks her to leave him alone, she won’t go away, and insists on telling him the terrible story of her life. (She had earlier cadged a ride with him in to the airport much the same hey-wait-a-minute way that she is now hanging out in this upper-class terminal lounge.)

At first, I felt much the same as Angust does with the increasingly annoying and obnoxious Textor as she regales him with tales that are by turns childish, senseless, and repulsive. And, like Angust, though I could have walked away — by the halfway point I was sorely tempted to give up on this ridiculous excuse for a thriller — I did not. Mostly because I wanted to see if my guesses about who Textor really is, for she is clearly hiding something, turned out to be the case.

A Perfect Enemy Tomasz Kot Athena Strates
I hate you. Let’s have a drink.

As it transpires, no matter what theories you might form about what’s really going on here, you’ll probably be correct, because A Perfect Enemy piles on the psychological absurdities as it builds from a maddening middle to an actively enraging crescendo of misogynist nonsense. This first English-language film from Catalonian director Kike Maíllo manages to be simultaneously obvious and preposterous, most particularly as it flips the gender of Angust’s mysterious tormentor from Amélie Nothomb’s novel Cosmétique de l’ennemi. (Which does not appear to have been translated into English.) I haven’t read it, but I did read the Wikipedia synopsis after I — with great reluctance — finished the film: the appalling gender politics here are an invention of the movie.

Early on in A Perfect Enemy, I found myself thinking that even though Angust comes across as a pompous ass, he doesn’t deserve the aggravation Textor is bringing him. He doesn’t deserve how it all ends, either, in a diametrically different way. It’s a reversal — another deviation from the novel — that is, I suspect, meant to be incisive and shocking. It is nothing but banal.

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amanohyo
amanohyo
Fri, Jul 16, 2021 3:12pm

After reading the synopsis of the novel, I’ll never watch this as I typically dislike an overreliance on gimmicky twists (speaking of which, your “quick take” made me immediately think of Shyamalan’s body of work – not that a few of his movies aren’t guilty pleasures).

That poster is kind of perfect though – so relatable yet so intriguing, so sexy yet so sinister. For what man among us hasn’t taken a fully clothed float in the infinite bathtub of his id to rest his noggin on the pillowy bosoms of his nude anima as she playfully pokes an ass cheek out of the psychic soup, straddles his shoulder, and rawr’s menacingly with a full face of makeup and pseudo cat claws?

Truly a triumph of marketing. It’s like they’ve known me my whole life!

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  amanohyo
Sun, Jul 18, 2021 3:41pm

Ironically, and probably unsurprisingly, there is nothing sexy about this movie. The bit in which the guy says out loud that he presumes that the girl is hitting on him? She laughs in his face… and she is most definitely not doing anything like that.