Director: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton
Jake Gyllenhaal is on fire right now. Prisoners, Enemy, End of Watch, all critically acclaimed performances, and now he has topped all those great characters off with one of our generation’s greatest onscreen presences; Louis ‘Lou’ Bloom in Nightcrawler.
Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), unemployed but not lacking in spirit, starts off as a bit of a crook, stealing bikes, pot hole covers and anything he can sell off easily. This all ends when he happens across a car crash and spots Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) who makes a living out of filming horrific accidents and the bloodiest of crime. Bloom decides to imitate him and become a ‘nightcrawler’, and when Lou puts his mind to something, he does everything in his power to succeed.
Let’s cut to the chase; Nightcrawler is brilliant, which is impressive considering that it is Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut. The film’s aesthetic is beautifully dark. Most of the scenes take place at night [the film is called Nightcrawler!] and you really do feel the atmosphere of a bustling city, which is constantly lit city at night. Despite the lights everywhere, Louis Bloom is still able to find the darkest, dingiest, and most horrifying areas of L.A, areas that no living soul should visit.
You have to make the money to buy a ticket.
Jake Gyllenhaal is the perfect embodiment of Lou Bloom; gaunt, big, perturbing eyes, slightly sinister, yet oddly charming, and utterly insane. We haven’t seen a character with such a mesmerising screen presence since Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.
The film also echoes many similar themes as American Psycho; the idea of someone doing absolutely anything to stay ahead of the game, a person who finds it impossible to connect with people on an emotional level, yet has an uncanny ability to make people bend to their every whim. Basically, both characters are sociopaths, and all the more interesting for it. There’s nothing more enthralling than watching Jake go all out onscreen, depicting the crazy, yet completely focused Lou Bloom. It would be a surprise if Gyllenhaal is not one of the contenders for the Academy Award come February.
Nightcrawler also has a very interesting message about the state of the media today. It constantly questions how far one can go; what can we, and what should we, show the audience. Lou Bloom himself is an integral part of this question, yet Rene Russo’s character, Nina Romina, the director of the morning news show that Bloom sends his footage to, is really at the heart of this debate. She is willing to show whatever will help her keep her job, despite the moral ramifications, or whether the public really needs to see the gruesome, and frankly over-the-top footage that Bloom has to offer.
Gilroy’s criticisms regarding the media in our society and, in particular, this sort of journalism [Nightcrawling journalism] is obvious; all they care about are ratings, morality and properly informing their audience has nothing to do with it.
Ultimately, Nightcrawler is one of the most tense, thrilling and thought provoking films of the year. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is spellbinding and something to be seen again and again.