Kike Maíllo (director)
05 July 2021 (released)
03 July 2021
If you’ve come out of a prestigious presentation in Paris where your ego has been stroked and you’ve been feted to the stars, into a waiting chauffer driven car, its pouring with rain and a woman taps on the window asking for a lift to the airport, the one which you just happen to be going to, what would you do? To make matters worse the woman has left her luggage and going back for it means missing the flight. Forced to wait in the lounge said woman now decides that she wants to tell him three stories.
That’s is the unlikely premise of A Perfect Enemy. But if you allow yourself get into the film and story without too many questions, this turns out to be an engrossing tale. Very much a two hander the conversations open up the characters of the two, with small embellishments such as the terminal model that has miniatures of our two protagonists as they move around.
Texel (Athena Strates) relates the stories pulling up star architect Jeremiasz Angust (Tomasz Kot) when he says he knows what she means, as his own interpretation and not truly picturing her story. And the first is a grotesque of abuse and cat food eating pinning her early years to virtual destitution. Until she picks up and leaves for Paris where in a walk in the cemetery she sees and falls in love with Isabelle (Marta Nieto) whom she chases and violates, though she escapes. Texel then spends two years looking for Isabelle until she finds and makes her acquaintance. All the while Jeremiasz is sitting there bemused and frustrated until things begin to click.
Based on a novel by Amélie Nothomb (and adapted by her and 3 others) A Perfect Enemy is an intriguing story that plays out with varying degrees of success. On a technical level it is superb visually with the camera capturing the sleek lines of the terminal while keeping the human aspect in vision.
Where it does become a little unstuck is with the word duels between Texel and Jeremiasz that come over as a little stagey. That’s not to take anything away from the actors who are superb in these complicated roles.
Directed by Kike Maíllo, in his English language debut, (he’s also one of the writers, the other two being Cristina Clemente and Fernando Navarro) its dialogue driven interspersed with narrative flashbacks (real or fantasy) that gives the film a tricksy psychological breadth. There’s not much in the way of waste as every shot and word count towards what is a satisfying conclusion.
A Perfect Enemy is available on digital platforms from 5 July.