Available on digital download from 5th July, A Perfect Enemy is a psychological thriller based on the book by Amélie Nothomb. A Spanish, French and German co-production filmed in English, it’s the story of a successful architect Jeremy Angust (Tomasz Kot) who is on a business trip to Paris but when he helps a young girl on his return trip things take a sinister and criminal turn.
The film begins with Angust concluding a grandiose presentation in front of a packed out auditorium, giving a rapid fire summary of his architectural journey and his search for perfection. Afterwards he is met off stage by some photographers and fans for a book signing before he is duly whisked away to catch a flight, but not before letting us know about the painful loss he experienced in the city of Paris (the venue of his presentation) and how he still misses his wife (Marta Nieto) that had left him 20 years ago. On the way back to the airport, in the pouring rain, a young girl Texel Textor (Athena Strates), approaches his chauffeur driven car parked in traffic to plead for a lift to the airport and despite his own lateness he decides to help her out. As a consequence they both miss their flights and end up in the airport lounge.
The girl won’t leave Angust alone and she is annoyingly difficult to ignore, which soon makes you wonder is there more to their chance meeting and is there something Angust would like to hide? Despite his despair at the situation he gives in under Texel’s persuasion to have a drink at the airport lounge but when they start talking Texel’s stories then take things in a dark direction. As the events unfold, they are being creepily replayed inside the toy model of the airport, which Angust had designed himself, sinisterly re-enacting the crime, like a playhouse theatre.
Directed by Spanish director Kike Maillo, tasked with blending together the reality sequences with the storytelling flashbacks, it doesn’t always fully grip the imagination but still manages to create an unsettling atmosphere with some highly creative abstract scenes as he explores the psyche of his protagonist. The airport provides a simple setting for the stories to be told from and there are other nice locational shots in particular the Parisian graveyard here denoted as Monmartre (but credited as the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery).
Interestingly, it is an international co-production and an international cast performing a script written in English with European accents. This perfectly suits the setting for an international business conference and airport. Tomasz is a middle aged, lean version of an Arnold Schwarzenegger with an Eastern European accent and Athena Strates tries a Dutch accent as the petite blonde Texel (a South African actress by birth) that establishes a sense of these foreign strangers meeting and conversing slightly uncomfortably in English.
As a psychological thriller there are some strange looking mismatches in characters along with some far fetched stories, which makes the film slightly bewildering if not intriguing as it switches between Hitchcock suspense and Wes Anderson fantasy. It isn’t helped by a rather clunky script but it does have some interesting lines and manages to show some imaginative qualities along the way.
Film: A Perfect Enemy
Director: Kike Maillo
Stars: Tomasz Kot, Marta Nieto and Athena Strates
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Run time: 1hr 30min