Jake Gyllenhaal delivers easily a career best performance as an amoral psychopath drawn into the highly profitable world of freelance journalism, capturing grisly crime scene footage throughout the overnights and selling it to the highest bidding local news source.
The directorial debut for screenwriter Dan Gilroy (Real Steel, Freejack, The Bourne Legacy), the story feels like it might have played a little bit better narratively and stylistically in a post O.J. Simpson debacle version of Los Angeles, but considering the current competition from TMZ for local La-La Land scoops, it works almost as well now. It’s a harrowing journey filled with gallows humour and featuring possibly the most unredeemable main character in a film since Patrick Bateman.
At the heart of it is Gyllenhaal’s hyper-motivated smooth talker, who can convince and bully his way into any situation with equal amounts of ass kissing and ultimatums. It’s stellar work and an uncomfortable portrayal of a misguided social climber.
It’s also worth noting some excellent supporting performances from Rene Russo (as a morning news producer), Riz Ahmed (as a homeless cameraman-slash-intern), and Bill Paxton (as a braggadocios rival).
It certainly won’t be for everyone, but it’s a heck of a ride for this willing to walk the razor’s edge of sanity itself.
Saturday, September 6th, 12:00pm, Ryerson Theatre
Friday, September 12th, 9:00pm, Ryerson Theatre