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VOD Review: A Perfect Enemy

June 11, 2021

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Jeremiasz August (Tomasz Kot) is a prominent Polish architect who is on his way to catch a flight in Paris following a speech at a conference, when a young Dutch woman, who reveals herself to be named Texel Textor (Athena Strates), knocks on his car window in the pouring rain asking for a lift to the airport.

Jeremiasz misses his flight, but runs into Texel again in the airport lounge, where she insists that he listen to her increasingly bizarre and disturbing stories. This is the setup for director Kike Maíllo’s A Perfect Enemy, which takes the all too relatable premise of a chatty stranger who won’t leave you alone and uses it as the basis for a twisty and pretty good psychological thriller.

The film, which is adapted from Belgian author Amélie Nothomb’s novel Cosmétique de l’Ennemi, mainly unfolds as a two-hander between Jeremiasz and Texel. As Texel plays mind games with him, Jeremiasz has his own perceptions challenged, and the film embraces a slippery narrative that keeps shifting and messing with our own sense of what is really happening.

This is one of those films that maybe doesn’t work quite as well in hindsight when reflecting back upon all of the reveals as it does while watching it, but the elusive nature of the story and how it is structured still makes this an intriguing viewing experience. It becomes a story that is about the build up and deconstruction of stories, which is itself an intriguing proposition.

Even as the increasingly convoluted twists pile up, A Perfect Enemy is kept engaging to watch, mainly due to its smooth assembly. Yes, this is quite literally an airport thriller, and there is a fair amount of pulpiness to it. But Maíllo finds a few inventive ways to let the story unfold, including some interesting production design choices and seamless editing to open up the world of the airport. The film also holds our interest thanks to a pair of good performances from Kot and Strates, whose back and forth as Jeremiasz and Texel is often compelling to watch.

Kot allows the layers of his character’s steely, perfectionist persona to be peeled back over the course of the story as his mental state becomes increasingly frayed, and Strates delivers an unsettling performance that keeps us guessing as to her character’s true intentions. Playing out as a cross between an arthouse psychological drama and a pulpy thriller, A Perfect Enemy is ultimately a sleekly assembled and fairly engaging little mind-bender of a movie that suggests bigger things to come from Maíllo.

A Perfect Enemy is now available to watch on a variety of Digital and VOD platforms. It’s being distributed in Canada by Vortex Media.

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