I Learned How To Spell ‘Gyllenhaal’ Without Looking While Writing This


I’ve briefly mentioned before how much I enjoyed last year’s Prisoners.  It was one of the best films of last year, partially due to Villeneuve’s direction and partially due to the acting.  Yes, Hugh Jackman is wonderful, as always, as a father torn apart by grief of his missing, possibly abducted children.  However, I find Gyllenhaal’s performance as the mysterious Detective Loki who is tasked with finding the children to be an underrated gem in the film.

Loki is a man with tattoos on his hand and neck.  He buttons his shirt all the way up, but doesn’t wear a tie.  He’s constantly blinking, a possible nervous tic.  In other movies, there’d be a few scenes of Loki’s home life or scenes of what he does in his spare time.  Save for Loki’s introduction, there are no scenes like that in Prisoners; he’s alone on Thanksgiving, eating in a desolate Chinese restaurant. Admittedly, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to delve into each character’s backstory.

In short, Loki just is.

Some might have been put off by that, but I loved his characterization.  It made me want to know more about him, which in turn made me care more about his investigation and the events he goes through.  There’s a snowy scene near the end of the movie where he’s speeding to a hospital and every time I watch it, I’m on the edge of my seat. With different direction or another actor in the role, I’m not sure I would have had such a strong emotional connection with the character.

As I left the theater after that first viewing, I was thinking about how great Gyllenhaal would potentially be as the title character in a Batman movie.  The role of Batman is pretty much as adult as you can get and picturing Gyllenhaal in the role cemented the fact that, in my mind, he was no longer the teenager I’d come to know.  What’s even more bizarre about this train of thought is that back in the early years of the new millennium when Christopher Nolan was rebooting the Batman franchise, Gyllenhaal was one of the many actors considered to don the cape and cowl.  He was even the favorite pre-audition choice of screenwriter David S. Goyer.  I read every single bit of scuttlebutt associated with the new movie and I distinctly remember thinking that Gyllenhaal had too much of a baby face and wasn’t nearly masculine enough for the role.  Now, over a decade later, I’m kind of bummed that we aren’t getting a Villeneuve-directed Batman film with Gyllenhaal as the caped crusader.  You could basically just shuffle the cast of Prisoners around and get a potentially great Batman film (Paul Dano as The Joker, anyone?).

Anyway, I’m getting off topic.  If you still haven’t seen Prisoners, I highly recommend it.  If you love it as much as eighty-seven percent of audiences and I did, then I’d cautiously suggest you move on to Enemy.


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4 responses to “I Learned How To Spell ‘Gyllenhaal’ Without Looking While Writing This

  1. I never had any interest in seeing Enemy before this review, I need to look it up now.

  2. I’ve given up on the spelling. I just copy and paste it (or refer to him as Jake) whenever I review his movies :D

  3. Pingback: Me and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl | Eleventh Stack

  4. Pingback: Tony and Susan’s Nocturnal Animals | Eleventh Stack

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