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Article – Can Jake Gyllenhaal Make A Bad Film?


Posted November 17, 2014 by

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Can Jake Gyllenhaal Make A Bad Film?

This is a question I ask at the start of every Jake Gyllenhaal film, could this be the one which is bad? Just even slightly bad? So far I’ve not been proven wrong but I always wonder, what is it that I love about Jake Gyllenhaal and how does he always have such interesting films?

I think of this due to the release of his, yet to be seen by myself, new film Nightcrawler. The reviews are in and all tally up to consider it a brilliant film, some even saying it’s the best film this year but I still wonder how does he do it? How does he not just slip and feature in a bad film?

Coming from a film background with a mother and father both in the industry, Jake Gyllenhaal has obviously been consumed by all amounts of film through his existence. Starting at the early age of 10, his acting career has bloomed into magnificence. Remember Donnie Dark, the wacky 2001 film which focuses on a man dressed as a rabbit and strategic hallucinations occurred. Well that indie hasn’t stopped a long progressive path of numerous indie films Gyllenhaal has starred in and this is what has kept his career alive, invigorated and allowing him to never miss a shot.

It’s indie films primarily which Gyllenhaal focuses on clearly allowing himself to take very unique characters and make a foundation for himself. It’s rare, very rare in fact to see such a well known actor still scrap around in the indie filmmaking world but it cuts a clear line as to who wants the money and who wants the challenged and Gyllenhaal wants the challenge. Looking over his filmography he’s done a few odd films such as Prince of Persian back in the day but heck it’s probably some more experimentation and admirably the film wasn’t brilliant. Equally he’s also starred in The Day After Tomorrow another huge hit which again with Donnie Darko it got him on the map.

Some haven’t necessarily been indie films either looking at Jarhead which focused on solders of today and Zodiac which was the investigation into the Zodiac killer. Still in these films it’s strong performances which just keep a constant push through but it’s now where he’s moved into his most unique experimental viewing of himself. Lately there’s been a run of indie films all starring Gyllenhaal which have been making big bucks because it has his name attached. Source Code seemed to be the beginning of this, although not exactly an inie film it had the feel and premise of one. Created by Duncan Jones, being his debut directing film, it starred Gyllenhaal as a man who repeats the same 15 minutes on a train before it explodes. The film has twists and turns but it’s Gyllenhaal who amounts to something as he creates a lot of tension through his character.

Heading down the recent year route we have End of Watch, probably Gyllenhaals top film over the past few years which had him play an American police officer alongside his partner played by Michael Pena as the two drive about LA discussing each others lives and showing true partnership and friendship. This film has stood out for me over the years mainly because Gyllenhaal felt so believable. The script was just spot on with the dialogue and to and throw between characters being exactly what should have come from this sort of film. It felt very natural watching cops head round LA.

Another recent film which featured Gyllenhaal was 2013’s Prisoners about two missing children with Gyllenhall playing the detective to find them. The entirety of the film didn’t focus primarily on Gyllenhaal himself but you couldn’t leave the film not thinking of him. He plays a strange detective, covered in tattoos and writing in a little book with an eye twitch as he’s figuring something out. The character just felt like he had something else going on, like he had some very dark past which he wasn’t ready to let go of. Did we explore this in the film? Well no and we don’t have to. This is a huge issue with film these days, they feel like they have to explore everything. Something’s are just interesting being left unanswered. This is exactly what I feel Jake Gyllenhaal brings to his films and allows them to stay alive. He brings something different to each character, feeling, emotion and it works wonders. It’s something which very much lacks in the film industry for sure.

So soon enough Nightcrawler will be out and reviews are already coming in saying that it’s top of this years films so really can Jake Gyllenhaal make a bad film? In my opinion, no he can’t.


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Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 22.37.10

Matthew Reay
Freelance Contributor


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