The first time I heard about this movie, I thought, wow, Jake Gyllenhaal doing a stand-alone X-man movie? Yup, nope, that wasn’t what it was. Not at all. The first trailer didn’t really give me a good idea of what I was getting into until the very first scene finished. The story is one I couldn’t quite get the scope of until about halfway through the movie, when the lead character truly reveals his life vision. If nothing else, this movie will make you begin to question your own motives and the motives of others. And for those who work with me, the lead character resembles a certain someone we work with – quintessential sociopath. POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
The movie begins with Gyllenhaal’s Lou Blume stealing fencing from one site only to attack the security guard, steal his watch and sell the ill-gotten goods to a construction site. It is clear that Blume has no actual job, doing whatever he can to get by. After witnessing a man recording a fiery crash, selling the footage for a tidy sum, Blume decides this is the next way to make money. He steals an expensive bike and pawns it for a video camera and a police scanner, now trying to make easy money. Blume finds a way to get his footage onto the morning news and he becomes consumed by this goal, a goal to sell his footage, have a reputable business and will seemingly stop at nothing to see this dream come true.
After hiring a man who was practically homeless, Blume has a corporation and starts to see the fruits of his labour. Blume is befriended, to some degree, by a local news director, Nina, played by Rene Russo. Blume goes to great lengths to manipulate all those around him, soaring higher and higher, making more and more money and making questionably ethical decisions. It is that latter starts to make the movie almost uncomfortable at times. Blume has little to no regard for anyone else, using people, as the character even states, “he doesn’t like people.” The idea that his business is something he stumbled upon makes him that much more despicable.
I can’t quite put into words how turned off I was by Blume, yet Gyllenhaal kept you engaged, almost rooting for this ne’er-do-well character. It also kept me fascinated that someone would live his life with no sense of how to live among people. His only goal is to get ahead, there is no concern for anything else. Currently, I work for someone like this and watching this movie was quite a clinic. No matter what you do, it will be wrong because it wasn’t the sociopath’s idea, or isn’t directly related to the sociopath getting ahead. That sort of lifestyle is foreign to most of us and for good reason. The movie is well worth a watch, no matter the price. The only detraction I had was that I really disliked the lead character, as I was supposed to.