November 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Posted in 2014 | 1 Comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

Fortunately, this is not another addition to the “X-Men” franchise. Rather, it is a brilliantly chilling story about the guys who go skittering through the dead of night hoping to catch tragedy on their cameras to sell to the evening news. In particular, it’s the story of how well one sociopath takes to the job. Said sociopath is played with an unnerving intensity by Jake Gyllenhaal in what may be his best performance to date. The film is so effective and creepy largely because it does not oversell the evil of Gyllenhaal’s character, Lou Bloom. Many films portray their psychos as all schoolboy charm on the surface (“nobody would ever know”) while being deeply sadistic. Bloom is obviously disturbed; nobody could possibly want to be around him if they didn’t have to. His brilliance is in knowing which people need him badly enough to put up with him. And his a-morality comes out in small chilling ways, like the way he rearranges a crime seen to get better video. Moments like that cut right through me and there were plenty of them. Gyllenhaal was masterful at getting wholly inside this character. The way he carried his body (what he did with his hands, how he held his head) was unique to Lou and suited him perfectly. It’s really amazing to compare him to “Jack” in “Brokeback Mountain;” that gives you a sense of this man’s ability to inhabit a character. In another brilliant bit of writing, Lou spoke in a series of internet infomercials. As though he was incapable of normal conversation, almost everything he said sounded like something he read and had memorized. With his wild eyes and frozen grin, everything about this man was so deeply disturbing. Only a couple of times did I feel like he strayed into cliché but these were minor quibbles in what turned out to be by far the most disturbing movie I’ve seen this year.


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