Running Time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
Nightcrawler is a thriller which follows our protagonist, Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a driven man who is desperate for work in contemporary LA. He stumbles across the fast-paced LA crime journalism when he witnessed a group of freelance cameramen who film fires, murders, crashes and other crimes in the city before selling the footage to the local news networks. Lou makes his way into the dangerous business of nightcrawling after purchasing a police scanner and a camcorder. Soon after, he meets Nina Romina (Russo), a veteran news director of a local news network and they begin collaborating where Lou provides breaking news footage for Nina’s morning news. The line gradually blurs between observer and participant for Lou as he attempts to expand his growing company/business of nightcrawling.
Nightcrawler reminded me of another award-buzzed film, Whiplash whereby both films are very much character-driven. Both comprised of a protagonist who can easily be the antagonist of the film. In this case, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a somewhat odd character that I would describe has a somewhat personality disorder with hints of autism and psychopathic tendencies. Lou is not only a driven person, but also a hardworker which gives the impression that he is well-educated, however, Lou’s manipulative nature and thirst for success makes him less endearing and more unlikable. Gyllenhaal not only commands the screen in every scene but made what could have been an unpleasant character to be more likable. This is undoubtedly, Gyllenhaal’s best performance thus far in his career, and it is a shame that he is snubbed for Best Actor in the upcoming Oscars. And of course, Gyllenhaal’s physical transformation, though not as drastic as many other actors, but it was enough to transform Gyllenhaal’s usual charming and attractive nature to that of hunger and at times fearful. There were moments in the film when the camera focused on Gyllenhaal and all you could see was his big eyes on this gaunt face, almost like an animal in the lurking in the dark and all you could see is its glowing eyes. It reminded me of the witch in the cartoon of Snow White. Gyllenhaal’s strong performance and character is supported and complemented by both Russo and Paxton’s characters who both have their own fair share of flaws which echo that of Gyllenhaal’s character. There are two other notable characters in the film which contradict that of Gyllenhaal’s and Russo’s characters and bring a more ethical and moral side to the film which were portrayed by Kevin Rahm and Riz Ahmed.
Gilroy’s directorial debut proves that he is not only a good screenwriter, but also a great director. Moreover, the cinematography was fantastic which brought both the beauty and grit of LA to screen effortlessly, accompanied by a wonderfully composed and timed score to match and bring to life every scene in the film. There are moments when I was watching the film where I couldn’t help but think of A Beautiful Mind – it might have something to do with the music and the character – but all in all, Nightcrawler is an amazing and captivating film with a solid storyline, and great characters brought to life by great actors.
Rating: 8 out of 10