• Film
  • A Perfect Enemy ⋆⋆⋆


A Perfect Enemy ⋆⋆⋆

A dark psychological thriller whose clumsy moments don't prevent it capturing your attention. Kike Maíllo's A Perfect Enemy makes an engrossing and tense two-hander.

Image for A Perfect Enemy ⋆⋆⋆

Kike Maíllo’s English-language debut is the adaptation of Belgian author Amélie Nothomb’s novel ‘Cosmétique de l’ennemi’, a dark psychological thriller that grips you from its eerily gorgeous opening credits. A Perfect Enemy revolves around a cat-and-mouse power game between a renowned architect Jeremiasz Angust (Cold War’s Tomasz Kot) and an overly chatty young Dutch woman calling herself Texel Textor (Athena Strates), who both end up missing their flights at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. She latches onto him and verbally holds him hostage by telling him a personal three-part story, central to which is “the enemy within”, the force that causes people to “destroy everything worthwhile”. As their time together in the VIP waiting room progresses, things take a sinister and altogether more stalker-ish turn…

What unfolds is an engrossing and tense two-hander that is often reminiscent of Sleuth. It falls short of excellence chiefly due to Kot’s stiffness of delivery throughout, especially when his sparring partner is Strates, who steals the show throughout and whose smiles and laughs chill. On his side, Maíllo sustains a queasy atmosphere throughout the taut 90-minute runtime and manages to redeem initially clumsy visual metaphors by making them clues that gradually guide the viewer towards the last act’s devious little twists. These reveals work well and even if the ending may prove divisive for some, A Perfect Enemy does overcome many of its flaws to serve as a skilful adaptation of Nothomb’s novel, one whose themes of obsession, guilt, and the tortured search for perfection will stay with you long after the credits finish rolling.

A Perfect Enemy / D: Kike Maíllo (Spain, France, Germany, 2020), with Tomasz Kot, Athena Strates, Marta Nieto, Dominique Pinon. Starts: November 04.