There are certain cinematic ideas that when they occur cause a lightbulb to go off inside oneself as if to say "I can't believe no one's ever thought of this before."
Such is the case with The Enemy, a British indie drama that starts with a basic premise - Romeo and Juliet are alive.
I'll let that sink in for a moment.
<peacefully going about my day>
Are you ready?
Okay, here's the concept - Romeo and Juliet are alive. For eighteen years and nine months, less one day, the star-crossed lovers have lived far away from Verona. Now, their hiding place is discovered and the two famously warring families are out for blood.
If you're an American, think Hatfields and McCoys.
The safe life that Romeo and Juliet have built belong to the past; the greatest love story ever told has been reborn.
Romeo (Grant Russell) and Juliet (Chloe Addiscott) open the film in a bitter fight, the cops having arrived due to their domestic disturbance. It's a scene that likely reveals the hazards of marrying and, as we're about to learn in rather short order, having a child when still in the early teenage years. That child, 18-year-old daughter Kate (Carly Davies), is about to arrive with, you guessed it, a man in tow.
Before long, the warring families have descended upon the abode and the greatest story ever told is told again.
The Enemy is an intriguing mishmash of a cinematic experience, both nicely acted and fun to watch yet not entirely successful and occasionally downright disappointing. As a lifelong Shakespeare fan, I found myself enchanted by the choice to occasionally twist the linguistics into iambic pentameter, yet I also found myself tossed jarringly out of the story by that age-old problem of actors who look far too old for the characters they are playing.
How can a movie be so faithful yet so off simultaneously?
Don't get me wrong. I'm in no way completely bashing The Enemy. I'm more just saying that what turns out to be a pretty decent and creative effort could have been so much more with a little bit more devotion to artistic consistency.
Paris (Michael Scott) may very well be the film's highlight, Scott being an actor who obviously seems to get the weaving together of Shakespearean style and contemporary cinema. Heck, I even enjoyed the actors who seemed to be a bit old for their roles because they were simply talented actors who sold it anyway.
The Enemy is one of those films that you watch and you simply think to yourself "This is a great idea. It should have been done before." Directed by Harry Boast from a story by Philip Boast, with obvious inspiration acknowledged, The Enemy is an entertaining, inspired film just beginning its festival run and one that will hopefully be tweaked just a tad more along the way.
While not the greatest story ever told, I'm still glad The Enemy was told.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic