Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. With an eye for the obscene and calculating menace, Lou muscles into the dangerous realm of nightcrawling and turning victims into dollars and cents.
Movies about Los Angeles tend to be self-involved. They move slow–basking in the palm trees and seemingly endless roads. They’re beautiful and vapid and, when it comes to movies like this one, show an underlying, terrifying and ugly side.
Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is a creepy, fast talking, sickly looking criminal –equal parts Travis Bickle and Raymond from Rain Man. He conducts himself as if his life is a permanent job interview: certain of his ability and yet you feel the emptiness in his soul. It isn’t until he stumbles upon a crash site and witnesses 2 freelance cameramen (aka nightcrawlers) capture the wreckage, in order to sell to the local news, that Bloom realizes the best place to put his business acumen to use.
Bloom eventually finds his… I guess you could say voice, by having the fortitude (and insensitivity) to get up close and personal at these travesties, capturing the blood and carnage and selling it to a Rene Russo-led news channel that is all too eager to have something that’ll get them easy ratings.
As Bloom’s star rises, so comes the advantages of being able to bring in poor, nervous understudy Rick (Riz Ahmed), a new car and a bloodlust to take out any and all competition as well as use his newfound status to take whatever he pleases from the news station craving his work and from Nina personally.
Gyllenhaal is a magnet through out. With his high cheekbones and skinny build, he is lizard like and uncomfortable in demeanor. His Lou Bloom continues his evolution into a very niche field of actors who disappear into their roles. Dan Gilroy’s script and direction is reminiscent of the lonely man narrative of Taxi Driver, and the film itself is a sound commentary on obsession.
To comment on the film’s idea of media invasiveness and bloodlust seems lazy and also sort of beside the point. The film instead tells me more about the bloodlust and obsession with documenting everything inherent in ourselves. On a small scale, this movie is reminiscent of the burgeoning of social media and how the idea of gratification keeps us humming along. Bloom goes through any lengths to get the best shot, to be first, to make the most money, to separate himself from the pack. And while, with this job, Bloom is essentially going straight, it doesn’t take long for his sinister, calculating malevolence to seep into this work.
Gilroy’s film is probably better than it should have been. Gyllenhaal elevates a one-dimensional (purposely so) character and expert direction keeps your heart racing and has you laughing and feeling uncomfortable at the same time.
You’re amused by what is essentially Harvey Levin for the local news and yet you’re attracted to it. A relationship that resembles our own with our “no privacy allowed” 2014 media.
Nightcrawler is currently playing in theaters everywhere.