Jake Gyllenhaal is so desperately earnest in all of his roles. From Donnie Darko to Brokeback Mountain, he always looks like he’s trying so hard. Unfortunately that works against him – it’s hard to take him seriously during his crazier rants with the psychiatrist in Darko, and it’s even harder during his weaker moments in Brokeback Mountain. It’s just so obvious how much he wants to do it well – he lacked the naturalism of, say, his counterpart in Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger.
Ledger was lauded for that movie, and rightly so, because of the ease with which he carried himself as the pent-up cowboy Ennis del Mar; despite actually being from America, though, unlike the Australian Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal’s western-ish mannerisms never quite felt as true.