Film Of The Week: Nightcrawler

Gyllenhaal may be trying to make us all forget that 'Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time' ever happened (and that's probably a good thing).

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Jake Gyllenhaal is a handsome man. Not that he wants you to notice that fact ­– actually, he’s doing everything he can to try to make you forget it. In Nightcrawler, the directorial debut of The Bourne Legacy screenwriter Dan Gilroy, he plays Lou Bloom, a hollow-eyed sociopath whose advanced resourcefulness and complete lack of empathy for humanity helps him slither up the greasy boom pole of television news.

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Gyllenhaal reportedly lost more than two stone, and definitely grew an oily little Pebbles Flintstone topknot, to portray Lou, whose amoral depravity ­– from rearranging crime scenes to withholding information about homicides in order to protract a story – is surely designed to embody everything that is rewarded in today’s invasive media culture.

As satires go it’s diverting, if a little silly – at one point Bloom and his “love” interest, head of news Nina (Rene Russo), share a quasi-orgasmic moment while watching a particularly bloody piece of footage – but it’s definitely as far away from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Gyllenhaal’s not particularly successful 2010 toe-dip into action blockbuster territory, as he could hope to get.

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Gyllenhaal’s always had a knack for portraying conflicted outsiders, from Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain or the eponymous Donnie Darko in his 2001 breakthrough, to the Denis Villeneuve-directed indie Enemy (out 2 January, 2015), in which he played a college professor and also his mysterious doppelganger. It doesn’t look like it’s a habit he’s planning on quitting any time soon, given that among the roles he has coming up are a dodgy politician in Nailed, director David O Russell’s financially troubled movie about a waitress (Jessica Biel) who gets a nail accidentally lodged in her head, and boxing drama Southpaw, in which he plays a renegade welterweight with a drug habit.

But just in case you were thinking he was getting ready to bust out his pecs again, Persian Prince style ­(and from the evidence of shots of him at a Vegas gym they’re certainly primed and ready) he’s following it up with real-life drama Everest about a doomed attempt to scale the notorious peak. Even the Gyllenhunk will struggle to sex up a thermal balaclava.

Nightcrawler is out on 31 October

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