Tag Archives: Jake Gyllenhaal

The Sisters Brothers (2018) Movie Review By Justin Aylward

The Sisters Brothers Review, In 1850s Oregon, the infamous duo of assassins, Eli and Charlie Sisters, chase a gold prospector and his unexpected ally.

Director: Jacques Audiard
Writers: Jacques Audiard (screenplay by), Thomas Bidegain (screenplay by)
Stars: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal

The western genre is largely a relic of a bygone era, but when we do see a new incarnation on our cinema screens there is much to admire. Recent films such as The Assassination of Jesse James…, 3:10 To Yuma, Bone Tomahawk, and Hell or High Water have shown how the dusty landscapes and fatalist attitudes of the Wild West are still ingredients for exceptional films.

The new film by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) stars Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as Charlie and Eli Sisters, a ragtag gun-toting duo in 1850s Oregon. The pair, who are as much chalk and cheese as drunk and sober, are recruited by The Commodore, (Rutger Hauer) a brutish, wealthy landowner, to pursue and kill a gentle prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed). Warm has allegedly stolen a special formula for uncovering gold and is set on keeping the riches for himself. Although Eli is unmoved by The Commodore’s sorry tale, Charlie is willing to take on the job, and the two bickering brothers set out on the trail.
Also on the trail of Hermann is a measured and erudite assassin called John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal). Morris gets a head start over the Sisters Brothers, and keeps a diary along the way, leaving letters at each stop-off point to inform Charlie and Eli of his progress.

French director Audiard, has shown again how sometimes it is with a foreign eye that old American mores are best dissected. From Douglas Sirk with All That Heaven Allows in the 50s and Wim Wenders with his film Paris, Texas in the 80s, European directors have used their outsider prospective to parse out the diverse ways of living in America.

In The Sisters Brothers, four disparate people in conflicting pursuits – the hunter and the hunted, the gold seeker and the taskmaster – are thrown together in a tornado of incompatible desires. Despite the obvious route he takes, Charlie is emotionally adrift. He drinks to get drunk where he then empties bars and picks fights. He sleeps with as many women as he can pay for, and abuses his brother at every turn. Eli, on the other hand, knows exactly what he wants but the ties that bind him to his errant brother grow tighter around him. Charlie relishes the danger in the job, but Eli has had enough and wants to put away his gun and return home to their estranged mother.

John Morris, the dogged assassin, is locked down by his obligations. Despite all his thoughtfulness for the surroundings, he has never asked himself what he is really doing. The working life seems to be the only one he thinks exists. When he finally catches up with Hermann – who basically presents himself to Morris – he finds a young man who is thoughtful, idealistic, and bright. Hermann wants to set up a community in Texas, free from the toxicity of the broader American society. When Morris realises that Hermann is not the craven individual he was told about, he decides to accompany Hermann to San Francisco in search of gold.
Within the unfolding story are many well-crafted, cinematic elements. The cinematography by Benoit Debie captures the celestial skylines and mountainous peaks of the West Coast. Some of the scenes following Eli and Charlie on horseback as they ride through fields of hay and tall grass are exceptionally eye-catching. Audiard directs with a special confidence a foreign director in an alien genre has no right to have, but his command over the material is obvious in the multitoned moods of the film. Also, John C. Reilly stands out as a gifted and thoughtful character actor who can perform through many layers of complexity. Look at the scene where he solicits with a prostitute, although not for sex, but just to play out a harmless but heartfelt fantasy; a husband saying goodbye to a grief-stricken wife. Joaquin Phoenix proves yet again that he is perhaps the best American actor of his generation, or at least the bravest and most unpredictable. He has the great ability of the famous method actors; you never know what he will do next, but it promises to be emotional.

Throughout, the Sisters’ Brothers journey to San Francisco is fraught with turmoil and the travails of the dangerous territory. Between night-scrawling spiders, duplicitous bordello owners, and dying horses, they can’t catch a good break. Charlie is just about ready to puke his guts up once and for all, while Eli seems to be on the verge of a hopelessness he may never outlast. Eventually they cross paths with Morris and Hermann Warm, and the ties of the plot come undone in scenes that are equally tense and sad.

I will not spoil the final act of the film. But I will say that the Homerian journey ends with all the appropriate beats that the film has been orchestrating throughout its running time. In the end we have a Western as charming as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, as melancholy as Unforgiven, and as unforgettable as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The Sisters Brothers is the best film of its type in many years and shows much promise for the director Audiard. Let’s hope he continues to make films away from home where it’s dusty, dangerous and the gun blasts ring long into the night.

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Southpaw (2015) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

SOUTPAW

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence

Plot:  A champion boxer fights to get his daughter back from child protective services as well as revive his professional career, after a fatal incident sends him on a rampant path of destruction.

Running Time: 124 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 60%   Audience 75%

Why I watched it: Gyllenhaal, for my money right now he’s the best actor working.

Thoughts: Maybe Romantic Comedies are more formulaic but sport movies are close, call them cliches or troupes but sport movies have a rhythm all their own and when they work they’re like a warm blanket.

I also want to talk about Jake Gyllenhaal, when I say he’s the best actor working today I don’t say that lightly, for me he becomes the role and he doesn’t have a stock role where you say “oh he’s just playing the same guy again.”  He changes in every movie, which all actors should do.

What I liked: Goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway it’s Gyllenhaal, he’s the best thing in this movie, it’s a very good performance.  He has a huge arc and he also has to change to keep his family and livelihood.  He also has to do something very tricky for actors, well two things, he plays a guy who doesn’t talk a lot and isn’t school smart, I don’t want to say dumb cause he isn’t, but he is use to someone else making the big decisions for him.  Most actors would go broad or over the top but Gyllenhaal grounds his performance, he’s never a cartoon or a cliche. I also what to give props to Forest Whitaker, this role is as old as movies, the trainer/coach.

He also goes about it different, he’s not loud, he’s not preachy, he seems tired, world weary, also a guy who doesn’t talk about his feelings but shows by his actions, this was also a nice performance and the two actors fed off each other well.  Rachel McAdams was good and I wished she was in it more, I would have liked to see this marriage and partnership more. The boxing scenes were fine, not terrible but solid enough, everyone looked like they were in shape and you believed them to be athletes.

What I didn’t like: This was very cookie cutter as far as the formula goes, and also the speed his life goes from great to terrible happens very quick.  To go through courts to have your stuff taken your daughter taken that takes time, this happens as quick as I’ve ever seen from penthouse to outhouse.  Also the handling of the daughter, when he goes to see her, man that doesn’t feel real, I’ve gone through a separation and had to see my kids kind of liked that and by they Hollywooded up big time.

Those moments are two big and really is a discount to the rest of the film, the daughter seems like a plot point more than anything else, here she’s mean, and of course she screams she wished he was dead, really over all these years we still go back to that, and no a child wouldn’t be able to pitch that big of a fit, she would have been brought a side to calm down.  I wished they would have played the father+Daughter scenes better, more real emotions and less melodrama.

The also wasted Naomie Harris, I have no idea why she was in this movie. I also would like to point out that the main plot is someone gets killed, now amazingly, we never deal with that legally, sure their quick to take his home away but shouldn’t there have been an investigation, by just sweeping that whole thing under the rug they made it seem like a plot point and something that made the movie happen.

Final thoughts: For the most part I liked the film, the performances for me is why I would recommend it.  I wish director Antoine Fuqua matched his performance behind the camera to that of Gyllenhaal did in front of it.

Rating: 6/10

Everest (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

EVEREST

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writers: William Nicholson (screenplay),  Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) 
Stars: Jason Clarke,  Ang Phula Sherpa,  Thomas M. Wright, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright

The movie “Everest” is based on the true story of two commercial expeditions starting their final ascent towards the summit of Mount Everest. Both groups endure fierce winds and freezing temperatures in a battle to survive against the odds. The story begins on May 10th, 1996 and follows the story of New Zealand’s Robert “Rob” Edwin Hall (Jason Clarke) together with Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who team up both expeditions to conquer Mount Everest.

With a strong cast ensemble the performances in this movie were excellent and brilliantly chosen. The main focus is on Clarke’s portrayal of Rob, Brolin’s Beck Weathers and Gyllenhaal’s Scott Fischer. Although the early signs in this movie suggested that Edwin Hall and Fischer are rivals it quickly settles into a survival unit and the characters begin to pull together in reaching their goal safely. “Everest” to me isn’t exactly an action movie and more drama based with stunning visuals. To me this is Jason Clarke’s best performance to date and his scenes with his onscreen wife Jan (Keira Knightley) add emotional pull to the scenario. Not playing second fiddle is Josh Brolin who along with Clarke had the bigger roles and his portrayal of Beck Weathers is something somewhat emotional and tragic by the end of the movie. Brolin gives his usual solid performance in “Everest” and although the portrayal at times is a little arrogant towards Clarke’s Edwin Hall adds to the relationship they have on the mountain.

Surprisingly Knightley, Worthington, Watson have limited screen time but don’t get me wrong all have an important roles in the movie. Keira Knightley as Jan is expecting their first child and is in some crucial and heartbreaking scenes. Worthington (Guy Cotter) in a supporting role along with Watson (Helen Wilton) are the base camp team who are basically what you would call expedition characters who set up the scenarios that lie ahead. Both are involved in key scenes and take the audience on the journey in realising the seriousness of the situation the group find themselves in.

The character of Doug (John Hawkes) and Yasuko (Naoko Mori), with Doug being a amateur climber who strives to make his kids proud of him by reaching the summit only provides emotional baggage for Edwin Hall who feels responsible in making sure his friend reaches his goal. That part of the movie didn’t sit well with me. I know the most experienced climbers cannot predict freak weather conditions but when Doug is barely breathing and can barely walk, was it wise to let your emotions interfere with your knowledge and experience of how dangerous the task of reaching Everest is? Don’t get me wrong i’m not knocking the story at this point but it came off a little to “Hollywoody” for me. One thing it did show I guess was what a good guy with good intentions Edwin Hall was. Yasuko finally completing the seven summits and proudly poked a Japanese flag at the top. Naoko Mori didn’t really have much to do in the movie….well apart from climb a mountain I guess but wasn’t that memorable. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Scott Fischer wasnt explored enough within the movie and like most of the first half of the movie was introduced and came off a little bitter towards Rob. This is probably the least used I have seen Gyllenhaal in anything to date and didn’t really do much to be honest for a main character.

Full credit to Salvatore Totino (Cinematography) From what I have read *Spoiler* the actual peak of Everest was in a sound stage in Pinewood and I must say I was very impressed with the effects in this movie to convince the audience of believing the characters where actually there. The visuals and the choice of direction (Baltasar Kormákur) go hand in hand in this production and some of the views were beautifully shot and the score mix by Peter Fuchs adds a haunting quality to those visuals

Everest doesn’t disappoint. The movie is emotional and dramatic and with a fantastic cast it was always going to be a watchable and enjoyable movie. The Character development was cleverly done within the first half of the movie leading us to care for the characters and concern ourselves with their safety. Admittedly I wasn’t aware of this true story and I’m glad I didn’t research this before I saw the climatic end as this added to the emotion and sadness of those final scenes. If you haven’t watch “Everest” yet I recommend giving it a go.

Donnie Darko (2001) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

DONNIE DARKO

Director: Richard Kelly
Writer: Richard Kelly
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal,  Jena Malone,  Mary McDonnell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze

Donnie Darko is possibly one of my all time favourite movies and on it’s initial release here in the UK in 2002 I had already got wind of this weird complex film about a troubled sleepwalking teenage boy and his supposed imaginary 6 foot bunny rabbit friend named Frank who warns Donnie the end of the world is nigh.

When I got round to viewing the Richard Kelly film it was on a recommendation from a work colleague who insisted I watch Donnie Darko for one reason only. That reason? it has a killer soundtrack. Now as crazy as that sounds, the soundtrack to this movie is phenomenal and captures the mood of the era that Donnie Darko is set in (mid to late 80’s)

The style of the movie is really what drew me in though. In 2002, I hadn’t heard of Jake or Maggie Gyllenhaal at this point. In fact, the only cast member I recall back then was Patrick Swayze (who I will get back to along with the other cast members. It was the style of the movie that I liked. It had a blend of a classic 80’s teen movie mixed with science fiction and believe it or not a little of the horror aspect was in there too.

The main character Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) who suffers from sleepwalking and is on medication is visited in visions by Frank who actually saves Donnie’s life at the beginning of the movie whilst Donnie is in his bed sleeping, Frank tells him to get up and it’s in his sleepwalking state that Donnie leaves the house only to wake up the next morning on a golf course in his pyjamas.

During the night as Donnie discovers on his way home from the golf course there has been an accident at his house that saw an aeroplane engine land and impact the area of the house where Donnie’s bedroom was (talk about luck eh? or was it fate?)

This incident sets up a chain of events in which as the movie progresses I recall thinking is it Donnie’s medication or state of mind that is taking him down a darker path or is Frank actually real and trying to help Donnie. It appears that Frank is directing Donnie to perform some stunts like flooding the school and there are other actions throughout the movie that really makes you think of what Frank’s agenda is and why he is “making” Donnie do these things.

There are some really stand out and funny moments in the movie and in particular with either motivational nut Kitty Farmer who tries to define life on joy and fear and lump into two categories which Donnie is having none of that and tears strips off her. Jake Gyllenhaal was only 21 at the time and really showed maturity in this role although he was playing a school kid managed to nail the personality of the troubled boy who was seeking guidance on what to do with his life and this scene always stood out to me along with another scene that showed Donnie’s self assurance and how fearless he was against the establishment. The other scene I mention is probably one of the best scenes I have ever viewed in my cinematic history and that is his confrontation with Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze)

Patrick Swayze at this point was a mixed bag to me, I first saw him as Johnny Castle in 1987’s Dirty Dancing that although is now regarded as a classic was not my cup of tea as an eleven year old boy at the time. Although having some credibility in films like Road House (1989) and Point Break (1991) I was never a massive fan of the late actor who sadly passed away at the age of 57 in 2009. When I saw his performance in Donnie Darko I have to admit that he was probably the best thing outside the lead actor and his portrayal of Jim Cunningham a motivational and positive mind speaker really was a highlight of the film and his scene (confrontational scene) with Donnie is in my book one of the greatest, funniest and powerful scenes you will ever see in a film.

There are other snippets of brilliance and comedy throughout the movie with the Darko family with Holmes Osborne playing the Dad, Mary McDonnell portraying the Mum and playing Donnie’s sisters Elizabeth and Samantha are real life sister Maggie Gyllenhaal and Daveigh Chase in a brilliantly written dining scene and also a great “Smurf” outburst from Donnie with his friends Ronald Fisher (Stuart Stone) and Sean Smith (Gary Lundy) that had me in tears of laughter.

Visually the movie is rather dark and mostly set at night giving the movie a real cynical feel to it and some of the sequences in the movie (particularly the directors cut) are very fast images that add a little suspense and may I say a kind of horror value to it. Possibly the most visual scene in the movie is the scene in the house when Donnie and his Dad as some of the other guys are watching a football game and this weird transparent “blob” begins to direct Donnie in his actions. I remember thinking when I saw this for the first time “is this Donnie seeing the future, as the people around Donnie seem to be following the path of this strange Abyss like gloopy thing” and to tell you the truth I still think that what that scene was trying to tell us, that Donnie sees things before they happen.

I have to admit that it was a pretty unique way of showing the audience this and although kinda weird and cool in a way it really does confuse the hell out of you.

The conclusion of the movie although I won’t go to much into that and how it plays out is really sad in a way and when things begin to go wrong in Donnie’s life, he begins to realise there is only one way to fix all of these things from ever happening. One thing I did manage to take away from this movie was I was able to go back to my colleague and say to him that it was an awesome soundtrack but I got more out of it than just that.

Admittedly this movie is confusing the first few time in watching it and reviewing a multi layered and complex film like Donnie Darko is a tough gig. But what keeps me going back and watching this movie every once in a while is for those stand out scenes and with every viewing you manage to pick something else up that you may not have noticed before and that is why I recommend Donnie Darko to anyone out there who hasn’t watched the movie yet.

Life (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh 

LIFE.png

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds

I seem to have developed a bit of fetish for the horror/thrillers genre recently and next on my list is Life by Daniel Espinosa. It’s a clear Alien homage, which never quite hits anywhere near the heights of that classic. That’s not to say it’s a terrible film, it’s absolutely not. It’s visually beautiful, has a great ending and has it’s fair share of tense moments in between, but it lacks some originality and falls into the familiar pattern of the genre.

Taking place on the ISS (International Space Station), it follows the travails of six astronauts/scientists as they at first discover and then study a single cell organism hailing all the way from Mars. Things start off fine and dandy for the crew. Well after Rory’s (Ryan Reynolds) nervous, near death collision with the probe carrying the life-form at least. Hugh (Ariyon Bakare), the resident scientist begins trying to reanimate the alien organism almost immediately, finally succeeding after changing atmospheric conditions to mimic pre-historic Earth. They even give their new pet Alien the cute nickname Calvin.

Of course, things don’t remain this calm for long. It would be a pretty boring film and not much of a sci-fi thriller if it did. Things take a turn for the worst after the little organism begins displaying rapid, accelerated, growth and signs of keen intelligence. This only seems to concern Miranda (Rebecca Ferguson), who briefly narrates to the viewer, telling them as much, following a minor mishap involving a lab valve with Hugh that leaves the life-form in a temporary stasis. Her relief at its halted growth is short lived however when a guilt ridden Hugh decides to shock the creature back into action. The shit hits the proverbial fan at this point and one of the crew goes down in gruesome fashion (the first and certainly not the last) shortly thereafter.

The film then plays out like your archetypal horror/thriller thereafter with members of the crew dropping like flies, as Calvin grows ever larger, feasting on the fresh corpses of his victims. There’s the usual acts of stupidity you frequently see in this genre, which can be forgiven when it’s a regular pleb in a house, but you expect more these supposed intellectually superior astronauts. That’s reading like a absolutely hated this film, I know. Again, I have to stress, absolutely not the case at all. I actually quite enjoyed it. Just don’t expect any realistic, scientific, recreation here, much like Gravity, which shared a similar setting. It’s a horror film that’s very deliberately set in the extremely claustrophobic surroundings of a space station.

With that said, some of the choices the characters and film made did annoy my slightly. Whether it be Kat’s indefensible decision to not just push off from the station whilst being mauled by Calvin on a spacewalk; Sho’s harebrained choice to burn up nearly all the fuel, sending them into a decaying orbit in a fruitless effort to keep the alien outside; David (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miranda’s lack of empathy or will to save Sho when he was stranded on his own and they could clearly track Calvin; and the inconsistencies in the latter’s ability to survive with or without oxygen. At one point it’s outside in the vacuum of space for a sustained period, surviving just fine and then it’s desperately scrambling around in search of oxygen to sustain its life.

In terms of performances, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson see the most screen time and development, although even then there isn’t a great deal of the latter, which was another slight letdown. Gyllenhaal and Ferguson did a decent enough job here, the former was slightly passive aggressive throughout mind, but he played the role well enough. Ryan Reynolds had a brief cameo, which is about as much as I can say on that. The rest were more filler than anything else, who you fully expected to die as the film progressed. Maybe Hugh played by Bakare being the exception with a slightly meatier role. I wasn’t a fan of the character though and the emotionless delivery of the line “We’ve just let it back in here” summed him up for me.

Having said that, I enjoyed the early moments in the film as it built up the tension and the claustrophobic uneasiness of the middle act, in the confined corridors of the station, as the ravenous Alien roamed around unchecked, picking them off at random. The twist at the end was incredible too and one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long while. I genuinely didn’t expect it, despite the film hinting quite heavily in that direction, which is predominantly down to the excellent way that Espinosa handled the scene. It reminded me of The Dark Knight rescue twist in the way it kept the viewer on the edge of their seats right until the end.

Whilst I did enjoy aspects of this film and it kept me relatively engrossed until the end, it wasn’t anywhere near being what you sensed it attempted to be. I.e. An Alien clone. It lacked the character development of that film, which meant there was literally zero connection to any of them and I wasn’t fussed when they died. It was visually amazing however and the zero gravity shots were stunningly realistic, whilst the alien, Calvin, was well brought to life and interacted beautifully with the ‘real’ things on screen. Overall, I would recommend this film. Despite my minor grievances (I’m a tad anal at times), it’s a decent little, horror that should be seen for the final scene alone.

Nocturnal Animals (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

 

Director: Tom Ford
Writers: Tom Ford (screenplay), Austin Wright (novel)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

Nocturnal Animals, the latest film from Tom Ford, focuses on the beautiful, seemingly rich and successful, Los Angeles gallery owner, Susan Morrow (Amy Adams). A west Texas debutant we learn later, she lives an extravagant lifestyle, with artwork aplenty hanging on the walls and other oddities dotted around her modern penthouse. It’s quickly apparent however that she’s deeply unhappy, with trouble brewing below the surface. She despises her job, is crippled with insomnia and her husband Hutton (Armie Hammer) has made some bad business decisions, leaving them teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. A strange package arrives at her residence and after giving herself a vicious looking paper cut in the process of opening it, we learn that within this is the manuscript of a new novel penned by her ex-husband. Dedicated to Susan, and having not spoken to him for the best part of 20 years, curiosity gets the better of her and she begins reading it, quickly becoming engrossed.

The focus then flips to the perspective of the novel, becoming a mini film within the larger main story. Following the Texas man, Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he sets out on a road trip with his wife and daughter. Driving in the dead of night, on an empty, pitch black highway, they become embroiled in a terrifying cat and mouse chase with degenerate rednecks. The three of them are attacked, the overly timid Tony is easily overpowered and both his wife/daughter are kidnapped and later killed, leaving him questioning his masculinity and power in the aftermath. The novel plays out as a sort of tragic, therapy session on their failed marriage. The events that transpire on screen during the fictitious scenes, a manifestation of the pain Edward felt after his split. He wants to make Susan aware of the suffering she caused him and it appears to work too, as she begins to look sorrowfully into her past.

The film utilises flashback scenes throughout to flesh out Susan’s past and we’re even offered a brief glimpse of the tumultuous relationship with her mother (Laura Linney). The latter prophetically telling Susan that a marriage between the two will be destined to failed and that Edward lacks mental strength, as well as the driven attitude to keep her happy. The highs and lows of her marriage are then played out, the brutal way she ends it giving an illuminating insight into the clear allegory of the novel. She’s seen questioning Edwards artistic ability, before ending their marriage prematurely and even going as far as aborting their baby behind his back. Meanwhile, in the novel, we continue to follow Tony as he enlists the help of gruff detective, Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon), in an attempt to get justice. They investigate for a year, before finally narrowing in on two of the three the culprits, Lou and Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Quick justice is served shortly thereafter, with Bobby, who we learn is suffering from terminal lung cancer and in no mood for letting the scumbags off lightly, shooting the former dead, whilst helping to lure the ringleader Ray to his end. Tony corners him, and after a short, tense standoff, finally avenges his family’s death. There’s a rather bizarre moment afterwards, when he appears to shoot himself accidentally, before crawling outside and succumbing to his wound.

Following these forays into Edwards past, the true allegorical significance behind his literary doppelgängers tragedy and the wider story as a whole is revealed. The devastation felt by Tony from losing his family within the novel echoing the grief of the author losing his unborn baby and wife. The emotional turmoil, eventual killing of the rednecks and his own death, representative of Edwards grief over the years, the eventual beating of his inner demons and finally being able to move on with his life. The films ambiguous end scene features Susan being stood up by Edward, after requesting dinner with her former husband. A final confirmation perhaps that he has moved on from his troubled past.

Both Adams and Gyllenhaal do a fine job in this film. Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson though, put in the standout performances for me. The former referring to his character as a ‘grotesque sort of angel’. A perfect description for the calm, guiding influence his character provides to Tony. He’s also highly likeable, his devil may care attitude, thanks in part to terminal cancer, giving him an almost humorous brutality when dealing with the murderous rednecks. Johnson is almost unrecognisable in this role as the redneck plumber/rapist/killer. Sporting an authentic southern drawl and long, unkempt hair, not to mention a shaggy beard, that’s every bit as crazy looking as the maniacal look in his eyes. I couldn’t possibly write this review without giving mention to the highly memorable scene involving Ray and an outside toilet. If any further insight is needed into the arrogant nature of the character then look no further.

The film itself is highly stylistic in its visuals. Seamus McGarvey, skilfully providing a stark contrast between the barren, gritty, rural Texas and the lonely cityscapes of Los Angeles. From the artwork on the walls to the immaculate costume. Musically, the score is well refined with clear classical origins. Featuring some beautiful string arrangements. It does a good job of switching things up as the film jumps between the action based novel scenes and the slower, more emotional parts featuring Susan.

Ultimately, I’d love to say sit here and say that it’s a fantastic film, but unfortunately that would be a lie and I can’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad film, just merely above average to good. I highly enjoyed the thrilling trips the film took into Edwards brutal world and the acting throughout was fantastic. However, it lacked emotional substance of any kind and whilst I understood the underlying theme of the film. I just wasn’t invested in the two main protagonists enough to actually care.