Jared Leto has long been an enigmatic and incredible actor to watch. His entire career has been an exercise in massive hits and misfires. In his latest role as an alleged serial killer in the Warner Bros film The Little Things, it marks his best performance to date, and left this reviewer floored.

The Little Things is a triumph, but there’s no doubting Leto’s creepy, skin-crawling performance is the one that will get under your skin and stay there. It’s the furthest thing from his pretty-boy start, and a role you won’t likely forget. But to fully appreciate this turn, it’s important to remember Leto’s roots.

‘Destroying Something Beautiful’

After an auspicious start, Leto burst back onto the movie scene just ahead of the Millenium, with a trio of supporting performances, that  each cemented him as one to watch. Though the series My So-Called Life and cult horror flick Urban Legend put the actor in a favourable position, it wasn’t until 1999 that things really began to move for the actor and rockstar.

First, he was debutante playboy Christian Bale’s most gruesome kill in American Psycho, then his face got absolutely pummelled in Fight Club, and heroin ruined his life in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream.

The dreamy teen we saw at the start of his career was absolutely changed, and it didn’t stop there, though his onscreen work quickly became overshadowed by other pursuits. Leto would disappear into dark make-up and spend his time as rock frontman for 30 Seconds To Mars, starring in forgettable films like Alexander, Lonely Hearts, and Chapter 27 along the way.

But in 2013, it was Leto’s absolute transformation playing a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club that would skyrocket him to an Oscar. He became a media darling and a man who had his pick of projects in Hollywood. But the film he chose became an infamous misstep.

He was tapped by DC and David Ayer to play the Joker, Clown Prince of Crime, in Suicide Squad, only to see his bonkers, method interpretation end up on the cutting-room floor. While a Zack Snyder cut of Suicide Squad seemingly promises more Joker footage, that’s not the Leto performance you should be focused on.

Leto took a nearly four-year break after the controversy stemming from the critical and audience flop that was Suicide Squad, and with The Little Things, he returns as an absolute force. It’s interesting that The Little Things feels oddly reminiscent of David Fincher films Se7en and Zodiac, considering Leto has been a favourite of the auteur’s, appearing in both Fight Club and Panic Room.

This 2021 gem is a splendid, slow-burn neo-noir about a serial killer and two cops who must confront their own unique demons before they can even begin to crack the case. Perhaps what’s most incredible about the film is that among the three Oscar winners — Rami Malek, Denzel Washington and Leto — it’s Jared who out acts everyone around him. It’s a transformative performance in a movie that adult filmgoers need not miss.

It’s hard to declare that Leto is back to the place he was in post-Dallas Buyers Club, but with The Little Things, it’s impossible to deny the man’s massive talent at this point.

The Little Things opens on HBO Max and in theatres on Friday, January 29, 2021

© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.



About the Author

Jordan Parker is a freelance entertainment journalist with more than a decade in the business. An avid filmgoer, his favourite movie is Fight Club, but he has a soft spot for rom-coms. A proud queer communicator, he also runs film and TV firm Parker PR.