Most will know Jake Gyllenhaal from his (eventual) star turn in 2001’s dark, chilling and downright odd ‘Donnie Darko’ (2001), which saw the titular Donnie grow increasingly mad and attempt to rally against the world-ending premonition of a rabbit-costume wearing entity called Frank.
These days, Jake – along with to a lesser extent is sister Maggie – is something of a household name, gravitating more towards bigger-budget leading roles in either familiar or comfortable territory. More recent successes such as ‘Prince of Persia’ (2009), ‘Love and Other Drugs’ (2010) and ‘Southpaw’ (2015) have seen Gyllenhaal make relatively safe career choices and turn in debatably more routine performances, yielding strong albeit unremarkable box office returns for his efforts.
Undeniably though, Jake is proving to be a sure-fire staple choice for many directors, a safe bet for studios, and an increasingly notable American national treasure. With the exception of wet-towel, production-flawed director-disowned flop ‘Accidental Love’ (2015) – which, while only involving him in the initial production stages, also proved to be a rare misfire for director David O. Russell – Jake has proven bankable, and this has allowed him to return to more risque features and experiment at the height of his success.
‘Nightcrawler’ is one such endeavour, which earned the indie success trifecta – critical acclaim, positive box office returns, and an Academy Award nomination to hold up triumphantly for future home releases/broadcasts. The box office success can be attributed in part to the film’s relatively low budget of $8 million, but a $50 million return on an essentially risky, controversial directorial debut is nothing short of a triumph. The critical acclaim lies mainly with both director/writer Dan Gilroy and Jake himself, who turned in arguably his most impressive performance to date as sinister thief-turned-freelance live accident cameraman Louis Bloom, in a feature that critiques both the media and the public’s money-spinning reactions to horrific real-life events, while portraying the slow-burning, gripping breakdown of a character so unnerving and macabre, you sit deeply questioning your morals each and every time you even consider rooting for him.
Following on from the simply bizarre indie flick ‘Enemy’ (2013), ‘Nightcrawler’ pulls no punches when it comes to showcasing Jake’s acting chops in the face of a more serious script – this is pinnacle Gyllenhaal for both the uninitiated and veterans, and worth every minute you watch through your fingers.
Countries Available (as of 14/02/2016) – Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Netherlands, USA