Perspective 1: Jake Gyllenhaal

Welcome to the first edition of Perspective, a guide to the important, must-see movies on a host of actors’ and actresses’ CVs. This week the focus is on Jake Gyllenhaal, and I’ll be charting his rise to prominence on the big screen by focusing on some of the films that elevated him from cult star to action hero.


1.       Cult Break-Out (Donnie Darko, 2001)

The first film on the list is the ever-popular Donnie Darko. At the ripe age of 21, Gyllenhaal booked the role of the titular character and decidedly made a name for himself with a compelling performance. Though not a success at the box office, the thematically dark film resonated within its audience through delving into subjects of teenage isolation and the portrayal of an unlikely, yet noble hero, leading to a substantial cult following behind the movie as well as its leading actor. By starring in the film, Gyllenhaal broke out and this role is unquestionably the catalyst behind his rise to stardom.

Why you should see it: Convincing portrayal of an awkward and isolated teen mixed with a creepy, cool sci-fi narrative.


2. Critical Acclaim (Brokeback Mountain, 2005)

Following a series of less than stellar outings for the young actor, the year of 2005 brought about a unique opportunity to propel Gyllenhaal into the upper echelon of Hollywood. Starring opposite the late Heath Ledger in this Ang Lee flick, the movie took on a life of its own, garnering Golden Globes and other awards as well as a massive amount of praise from just about everyone who saw it. The significance of the film is immeasurable also, with the tender depiction of a same-sex relationship never addressed to such a huge degree, with Ledger and Gyllenhaal reaping the benefits from superb performances by both attaining certified leading men roles.

Why you should see it: One of those films that captures the imagine of a generation and offers two rising actors for the price of one.


3. Intelligent Performance (Rendition, 2007)

A relatively minor hit for Gyllenhaal came in 2007, when he was cast alongside heavyweights of the film industry Meryl Streep and Alan Arkin in Rendition. Add to that cast list Reese Witherspoon and the capable Peter Sarsgaard and it’s hard to imagine someone who wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. However, this makes the list as it’s important for showing the growth of Gyllenhaal the actor, insofar as an intelligent performance means that your eyes are drawn to Gyllenhaal amongst the big names. A deftly cerebral movie, Gyllenhaal helps guide the audience through the complex plot of deceit and betrayal, and does so with proficient skill and aplomb, indicative of an actor at the top of his game.

Why you should see it: Star-filled drama with a clever premise and a decent performance from Gyllenhaal as the relatable everyman, who knows about as much as we do about what’s going on.


4. Leading Man (Source Code, 2011)

Starring as Captain Colter Stevens, Source Code sees Gyllenhaal assume the mantle of leading action hero, to which he does immaculately well. Too often, action movies forget the human side of their main character and thus we tend to drift off and just drink in the cool special effects and explosions, with little consequence and meaning other than to fill up an hour and a half. However, Source Code offers a refreshingly emotional take on an exciting concept directed by Duncan Jones. With an expertly woven story, a fun and clever premise and an assured and likeable front man, Gyllenhaal comes of age in driving a movie off his own leading man status. Plus, he gets the girl at the end, though he isn’t really Jake Gyllenhaal. Or something.

Why you should see it: Gyllenhaal’s evolution into true leading man status in an enjoyable sci-fi flick.




~ by jrhett on January 24, 2012.

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