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.
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.