A person can run away from cities, his family and his roots, but there is one thing he can never escape, “his inner conscience.” Through a brilliantly plotted mystery, the story in A Perfect Enemy looks deep into the conscience of its protagonist. It underlines that a person is the architect of his own doom. His worst nemesis is his “inner enemy”.
Directed by Kike Maíllo, the film is based on a French novel, The Enemy’s Cosmetique (French: Cosmétique de l’ennemi) written by Belgian author Amélie Nothomb. Being an A-grade thriller, the film leaves some missing holes that I’ll try to fill to the best of my knowledge.
‘A Perfect Enemy’ Summary
A Paris-based architect, Jeremiasz Angust, heads to a Paris airport after a successful conference in the city. On his way, he meets a strange girl who asks for a lift to the same location. Texel Textor is a blonde teenage girl whose blunder costs Angust to miss his flight. Later it is revealed that the Paris airport was designed by him some 20 years ago. At the same time, his wife, Isabelle, went missing, and he has been waiting for her since then. Thus, the location refreshes some memory.
Angust waits in the VIP lounge for the next flight to Warsaw when Texel turns up again. Annoyingly, she compels Angust to join him for a conversation and ends up telling him grisly stories of her childhood. One of them holds a murder mystery that disgusts Angust at first but also hooks his attention.
Was Texel Textor real?
At the first meeting with Angust, Texel introduced herself as a Dutch woman headed to the Paris airport. In the second encounter, she started narrating the stories of her dark childhood and how she killed her classmate by just praying. Later, she ran off to Paris to live a life away from her family. In Paris, she saw an exquisite woman at Montmartre Cemetery and became obsessed with her. For 2 whole years, she hunted down the beautiful woman. And when her pursuit came to an end, she confessed her love to the woman, but she rejected it. Finally, in remorse and revenge, she killed the woman. The woman’s name was Isabelle, Angust’s wife, who went missing.
Angust got tormented. He couldn’t believe it because he was the one who killed Isabelle. So who was this strange woman?
Texel Textor is Angust’s inner conscience or often referred to as the “inner enemy,” in the novel and in the film. He killed his wife out of fear of losing her but later found out through a pregnancy strip in the bathroom that Isabelle was pregnant. Angust created an image of his daughter and named it Texel Textor. She often labeled herself as Dutch because Isabelle was leaving for Amsterdam before Angust killed her. He wanted to believe that his daughter would have been born in Amsterdam as a Dutch woman if he hadn’t committed the crime. (the Netherlands as a whole is called a Dutch Country).
In simple words, Texel wasn’t real but was an invisible conscience created out of guilt or remorse. Angust was simply revisiting his guilty past through another face.
Significance of the Paris Airport
The airport showcased in the film was designed by Angust, 20 years ago when Isabelle was alive. When he revisited the airport at the present time, he saw a bloodstain on the miniature model of the airport. Its significance is that after killing Isabelle, Angust dumped her body in a Concrete mix outside the construction area of the expansion airport. 20 years later, his mind played games with him and reminded him of the crime he committed.
The airport was Isabelle’s tomb that can’t be penetrated.
Were the stories real?
All three stories were true, but it never happened with Texel. They were actually snippets of Angust’s conflicted past. From childhood, Angust had been afraid of failure. He was a narcissist who couldn’t accept criticism. (A layer that can be pinpointed on deleting the negative comment on his blog that dealt with his conference feedback).
The Narcissistic personality disorder started in his school days when Angust killed his best friend Frank Hoffman and made him disappear without a clue. The story is similar to Texel’s story, who killed her classmate by praying for her death.
Like Texel’s incidents, Angust ran away from home and came to Paris to start anew. In Montmartre Cemetery, he saw Isabelle and got obsessed with her. But unlike Texel’s version, Angust wooed Isabelle and married her. But later, she felt captive (she mentioned Stockholm syndrome to Texel in the third story). When Isabelle decided to leave Angust, his sense of perfection and narcissism got hurt. So he killed Isabelle and called his actions “A Perfect Crime.” Why? Because Angust believed in his most narcissistic sense, that if a criminal is still free, then his crimes are the most perfect in nature.
“Without wanting to, I have committed the perfect crime: nobody saw me coming, except for the victim. The proof, I am still free.”
In one of the flashbacks, Angust saw himself gulping noodles like Texel gobbled cat food. Another reference that all the three stories were nothing but the recollection of Angust’s past with a new protagonist, his inner enemy, his daughter, Texel.
‘A Perfect Enemy’ Ending Explained
Finally, Angust and his inner enemy, Texel, came face to face on the airplane. Angust, in pain, confessed to killing the most loved one in the world. He demanded Texel, his conscience, kill him for his crimes and free him of his guilt. Texel tries to bury Angust in a concrete mix that visually appears in the airplane bathroom.
But soon, his narcissism took over again. He came out from the “hallucination” concrete and grabbed Texel’s neck. He killed Texel and buried her in the concrete. The way he buried his wife. In simple words, Angust killed his inner enemy, his inner consciousness, his daughter Texel. But why did Texel come back in the first place? Because Angust was in remorse for killing his unborn child.
In the end, Angust convinced himself that Isabelle left him and was still alive somewhere. Thus, their daughter was alive too, and Angust wasn’t a killer. A lie a narcissistic told himself to keep his figure unstained.
“A lie needs to be repeated more than the truth to be believed.”
A Perfect Enemy is a 2021 mystery thriller film directed by Kike Maíllo. It is based on the French novel, The Enemy’s Cosmetique (French: Cosmétique de l’ennemi) written by Amélie Nothomb.