Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Synopsis: When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.
Nightcrawler is a film that reminds you, by way of modern classics like Drive, of the vintage late sixties-through-seventies hits that we are all so familiar with. It just has the style of film making to it. That sense of commentary on the state of a nation, or of the world in which we live in. It’s a film that seemingly has a message like they did back in the day during Vietnam and Watergate. The biggest compliment I can pay Nightcrawler is that it could easily sit besides those kinds of films, it’s that good, and destined to be a classic itself in thirty or forty years.
It melds several styles together really well, from comedy to action to drama, and kept me tense throughout. It could have gone on for another hour and I wouldn’t have noticed as the character of Lou, played by an Oscar worthy Jake Gyllenhaal, was fascinating and repulsive in equal measure.
The seedy L.A. nights are perfectly realised, and the cast of characters who litter the streets are no better. They are all low-lifes, making a living from humiliating the injured and dying by shoving cameras in their faces. I’m not from the US, so have no idea if this is actual common practice, but I did wonder how these ‘nightcrawlers’ are even allowed within a mile of a murder or car crash. The police didn’t seem overly bothered 90% of the time.
Back to Jake Gyllenhaal. Wow. He is rapidly becoming one of the go to actors if you want to use someone who is versatile and incapable of giving a bad performance. Just look at his past resume; Enemy, Prisoners, End of Watch, Source Code, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko and Zodiac. That’s not a bid CV so far for someone who is still only in his mid thirties (his birthday is today actually)! If Gyllenhaal keeps making the right choices he could become one of the all time greats, and this is displayed none more so in his creepy, unsociable, on the edge performance as Lou Bloom.
Bloom is floating around L.A. with no job prospects when he happens upon Bill Paxton ‘nightcrawling’. He sees the potential so, rather arrogantly, starts his own company of just him and his new recruit Rick (Riz Ahmed). Together they start to build a profitable (for Lou anyway) business, helped largely by Lou having no morals whatsoever. As we find out though, Lou’s lack of empathy for others has serious consequences.
The thing I liked about Nightcrawler was it’s total refusal to apologise for the abhorrent behaviour of it’s protagonist. He really is one of the strangest characters you will see in a film all year, whether it be filming dead bodies, confidently blackmailing his TV news boss to sleep with him or telling his employee about the rules of business. He is like Rainman’s evil twin, and we really don’t know whether to root for him or hope he winds up like his subjects.
A fascinating film about the state of the media and what people find entertaining or newsworthy now, and the lengths people will go to to earn fame and fortune. One of the best films of the year.