In a recent Instagram post, Jake Gyllenhaal shared shots from four of his most iconic roles accompanied by the ongoing red flag meme, accompanied by the caption “This role would be perfect for Jake Gyllenhaal.” The truth is, even Gyllenhaal knows that he portrays many eccentric and psychologically challenging characters who are somehow involved in a thought-provoking narrative. Most of these characters are on this list of thrillers that are likely to keep you on the edge of your seat, potentially nervous and a little appalled at the uneven unfolding of events taking place in them.
From a writer trying to get back to his ex-wife with a twisted novel to a freelance videographer who is not afraid to get his hands dirty to get the perfect footage, here are a few movies to add to your watchlist if you’re looking for more of the exotic Gyllenhaal content.
Let’s start with Gyllenhaal’s latest starring role in the Netflix original The guilty. In this one-man show of a movie, a police officer named Joe Baylor receives an emergency call 911 in the midst of his own psychological crisis. While trying to save the caller on the line, he also faces inner turmoil regarding the possibility of getting his reputation done and not being able to see his daughter for a long time.
It’s hard to tackle a role where practically 99% of the time, the cameras are focused on you and the whole story takes place in a single place. Gyllenhaal, however, pulls it off by delivering an emotionally charged performance that really hits the core.
In this hard to decipher narrative directed by Tom Ford, Susan Morrow (Amy Addams) is an unhappy art gallery owner who surprisingly receives a manuscript from her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Gyllenhaal). As she reads the pages of his thriller novel, she recalls memories of their turbulent relationships by drawing parallels to what happens to the characters in the story. Gyllenhaal plays both the ex-husband and the main character in his novel, a fact that can spare viewers a little confusion for the first time.
Flashback to the early 2000s, when Gyllenhaal starred in one of the first psychological thrillers of his career and arguably among the most prestigious projects he was involved in. Donnie Darko, he plays a troubled teenager (possibly facing schizophrenia) in the late 80s. After Donnie sleeps one night, he meets a monstrous rabbit named Frank, who warns him that the world will end in 28 days. When he returns to his home and discovers that a jet engine destroyed his bedroom, Donnie is unsure whether the world is nearing an end or whether he lives in a parallel universe.
This David Fincher-led true crime film follows two investigators (played by Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards) and two journalists (played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.) on the run to find out more about the identity of a serial killer operating under the name Zodiac, who is terrorizing the city of San Francisco. As the Zodiac claims its victims and showers the police with cryptic messages and bloodstained clothing, it’s harder to decipher clue after clue than ever before.
Given that this thriller is based on a case in reality, the dialogues and historical accuracy are on point and keep viewers going from start to finish. If you enjoyed Seven (another Fincher production), this may be a good opportunity to see next time.
IN Prisoners, we see Gyllenhaal again in the investigation scene playing Detective Loki, the person responsible for overlooking the case that drives this film. After two girls in Pennsylvania are abducted, police begin searching for clues to their location and hopefully bringing them back to their father Keller Dover (played by hugh Jackman). However, Keller is not so keen on letting the police take responsibility for the case. As he tries to look after his daughters alone, Keller realizes that he may have to risk his own life.
If you become fascinated by silence that speaks for itself, Prisoners will make you guess and arouse some anxiety as we see both characters in despair over the lives of these missing girls.
If a couple of the above mentions made your head spin around and around, Velvet Buzzsaw can make you even more dizzy with its metaphors. In this satirical conception of the Los Angeles art district including all of its overarching characters, from the pretentious art critic (Gyllenhaal) to an art gallery owner (Rene Russo), things start to go out of hand when the work of a recently deceased artist begins to attack anyone who seeks to make money on it.
It can be difficult to summarize the plot, given the horror-encounters-contemporary-society critique of Velvet Buzzsaw, but if you are willing to take this crazy ride, be warned that you may either be entertained or completely disoriented.
From the same director for Velvet Buzzsaw, Nightcrawler will definitely make you fear Jake Gyllenhaal like never before. In this twisted thriller, Louis Bloom finds the opportunity to do so as a freelance videographer by taking footage of horrific murder scenes without deviating from gore. The more Louis is invested in making his on-page hassle a long-term career, the more he goes to extreme lengths to ensure he is able to share “worthy” content in the air.
The way Gyllenhaal draws viewers in with his portrayal of a cold-hearted sociopath looking for more chances to succeed in the media regardless of cost can easily be considered one of his best performances to date.
KEEP READING: The 7 Most Underrated Jake Gyllenhaal Performances
Slim and sleek, difficult and nimble, these spy thrillers will keep the ‘No Time to Die’ vibe going.
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