An awful twist can ruin a decent film. A great twist can save it. For example, take the international film A Perfect Enemy — a rare example of how a twist can alter the entire narrative perspective of a film for the better. In its rudimentary upbringings, the film’s mysterious intentions only ever so often creates entertaining drama. More reliant on camp and exposition than any real development, A Perfect Enemy drags its simplistic concept to its very peak. Sometimes suspenseful and gripping, and other times comically awful, the plethora of fourth wall breaks and plot conveniences is a headache. For a film that’s essentially all set in no more than three major locations, the film somehow feels as though it needed more artistic restrictions with the already limited premise.
Some of the blame can be directed towards the central duo, where the over the top line-readings only occasionally works alongside the campy nature of the film. Tomasz Kot and Athena Strates both look perfectly for the part, however their distant chemistry never clicks. A good push-pull dynamic should at the very least have some sort of connection in terms of minuscule mannerisms or even a simple trademark action. There’s a certain artificial magnitude between the two performances, that creates a sense of unintended banality from the very get-go.
Though once all is revealed, and the cement and mortar is mixed and carefully layered on top of the rickety opening two acts, A Perfect Enemy becomes a psychologically invigorating thrill-ride. The connections and open-ended motives become suddenly more clear. The thematic intention regarding the rise of predatory behaviour and how the bi-product of ignorance spawns sinful wrongdoings is a rather topical talking point in regards to the film’s overarching purpose. Could have the film potentially worked better as a mid-length feature? Most likely, however it’s always enlightening to see filmmakers take some sort of creative risk and license with twists that ultimately save films from impending commercial doom.
Lightly plodding in its opening hour, but positively morbid and twisty in its final climax and resolution, A Perfect Enemy is yet another successful thriller from Spanish director Kike Mailo. It’s anything but dull, where the stormy gloom of Paris and the claustrophobic atmosphere of airport highlife infiltrates the amusing genre sentiments of the film. Far from perfection, but still a valuable piece of schlock-screenwriting and directing, A Perfect Enemy is a short and sweet thriller with a baffling sense of demented humour and pathos.
A Perfect Enemy screened at this year’s Sitges Film Festival and is currently seeking international distribution.