Nightcrawler was one of the most exciting and unnerving films of last year. Director Dan Gilroy bases his film on society’s fetish for violent media and the disturbing truths behind our 24-hour news culture. Nightcrawler does a great job of making the mundane urban landscape seem a bit more terrifying, the neon-soaked streets of Los Angeles feel alien and unwelcoming, reminding cinema fans of Cronenberg’s Crash or Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Nightcrawler is a rare film that does not patronise the audience, it’s challenging and difficult, and at times, hard to stomach.
The talented and versatile Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the role of a lifetime as Louis Bloom, a sly but mannered thief of low moral character. After failing to find honest work, Bloom resorts to selling graphic video footage of car crashes and violent crime after overhearing a conversation with a rival cameraman. Shocked at the easy money from selling footage to local news outlets, Bloom believes he has found his new calling in life. Bloom makes for a very compelling figure, a layered character who can be very polite and well-mannered in one scene but an absolute, ego-driven monster in the next. Gyllenhaal really suits this role and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, his performance as Bloom has earned him rave reviews from critics and cinemagoers alike, a shame that he was not nominated for any of the ‘big’ awards for his part in Nightcrawler.
As Bloom finds continued success in his new career path, he expands his operation by hiring drifter, Rick (Riz Ahmed) as an ‘intern’ to his ever-growing company, Bloom tries his best to come across as a mentor-like figure, their working relationship becomes such an integral part of the film in its final act. Bloom and Rick seem like an ideal double act, both are desperate to better themselves but the key difference between is that Bloom will do anything to make money, no matter how desperate or depraved the circumstances. Though Nightcrawler is a dark and cynical movie, it occasionally feels a bit uneven in some pivotal scenes, for example, Bloom’s negotiations with TV news producer, Nina (Rene Russo) feels a bit unrealistic and overly dramatised. The tone can sometimes drifts between hard-hitting drama and satire but always feels focused and on-point. For a film with a major star, Nightcrawler takes a lot of risks and veers into much darker territory than you might expect.
The major draw of the films is to see Bloom’s eventual descent into madness as he tries to become the premier source of video news in the state and destroy all the competition, including rival cameraman Joe Loder as played by the legendary Bill Paxton. Nightcrawler makes you think about how ‘real’ the news really is.
Nightcrawler is required viewing for anyone who enjoys dark humour and close to the bone satire, a film that will leave you on the edge of your seat, and breathless at the end.