I’m not entirely sure why Jake Gyllenhaal felt the need to lose loads of weight for Nightcrawler, but conbined with a very good performance he certainly looks the part of a man who’s one step away from being a psychopath – and maybe not even one step.
He is Louis Bloom, who’s certainly not lacking in confidence and believes he’s got everything to offer the world, but his life and career is going nowhere, partly because he lacks direction and also because he had no issue being on the edge of the law. However he stumbles into a career he never expected when he meets a Nightcrawler – freelance cameramen who race to emergencies in the hope of getting sensationalist footage for the local news.
Louis proves to be very good at it, partly because he has no limits and is totally amoral, not caring about the law or ethics, he just wants the footage, whether it means going into crime scenes without permission or training his camera of the grisliest scenes with complete dispassion. It turns out his lack of morals and empathy is matched by the news producers’ greed for extreme footage, whether it has genuine news value or not. As Louis continues to push the boundaries, his status as observer begins to blur until he becomes part of the story.
Nightcrawler is a great watch, largely due to Louis being a fascinating character. He’s not just an observer of crashes, fires and shooting, but he appears to be observing what it is to be a human. Everything he knows comes from internet research. He comes across as if he has no real knowledge of humanity beyond his interpretation of what he’s read. When he compliments TV producer Nina (a great turn from Rene Russo), it feels like he’s running through a ‘how to’ guide to going on a date, not because he actually feels anything.
To Louis, everything is an opportunity or an angle, and he will do anything to get what he wants how he wants it, but soon things begin to spiral out of control as he seems to have no idea when he’s gone too far, due to his absolute conviction that he’s always right. It’s not a surprise that writer/director Dan Gilroy was Oscar-nominated for his screenplay.
With a gritty high-contrast look, the film is extremely good visually, with almost the entire movie taking place at night. It’s also a biting look at the news. Although us Brits may feel it seems the movie’s ‘if it bleeds it leads’ extremism ideas about local news is over the top, if you’ve ever watched American television, you’ll know it’s not far of the mark.
If you enjoy a bit of a morally ambiguous thriller, Nightcrawler certainly delivers.
Overall Verdict: With a great central character, a sharp look at the quagmire of American news and some really good performances, Nightcrawler is a dark and fascinating ride.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac