Will ‘Demolition’ Be Jake Gyllenhaal’s Breakout Performance?

Above: Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Jean-Marc Vallée's 'Demolition'
Will Demolition be Jake Gyllenhaal’s Breakout Performance

The stars of Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee’s last two films were each nominated for an Oscar. Matthew McConaughey won for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, while Reese Witherspoon earned a nom for her work as Cheryl Strayed in Wild, but lost to Julianne Moore.

Friday, Vallee’s latest film, Demolition, opens with Jake Gyllenhaal as his leading man in the tale about a widowed investment banker trying to sort out his life after his wife’s passing. Could this be the movie where Gyllenhaal finally makes the leap into that upper tier of 30-45-year-old actors alongside guys like Leo and Bale and Fassbender and Redmayne and Hardy?

It feels like Gyllenhaal has been on the cusp of making that transition in the past, but he’s yet to take that next step. For every great performance that makes you think it’s coming – Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead, Nightcrawler – there has been a middling movie that makes it seems like he’s just never going to be that guy, like Prince of Persia or Source Code or Southpaw.

While Gyllenhaal has qualities and abilities that the others in the current upper echelon of adult male actors have yet to exhibit – DiCaprio couldn’t do Love & Other Drugs and Redmayne would drowned in something like End of Watch – he’s only shown flashes of that ability to hold the audience captive for an entire film and not yet morphed into one of those actors moviegoers can bank on for a commanding performance every time out.

Tom Hardy? Always great. Redmayne? Home runs. Fassbender? Excellent, even when he’s doing comic book flicks. Gyllenhaal? Hit or miss, depending on the material.

Maybe it’s a matter of making some bad choices or maybe he’s actually a lot like his character in Love & Other Drugs – an ultra-talented guy that can coast on his looks and natural abilities, which allows him to not have to really, truly commit himself fully around the clock. That dude ended up sleeping with Anne Hathaway a bunch, so maybe there is something to being that guy…

But Gyllenhaal feels like one of those actors that could do more, should do more and people have been waiting on for years and given Vallee’s recent run of success, is Demolition going to be the movie that helps the former Donnie Darko move onto the A-List for actors of his age?

Tags: Jake Gyllenhaal

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