By Sean van der Heijden A film debut by writer/director Dan Gilroy, ‘Nightcrawler’ focuses on Lou Bloom, a sociopathic man played by Jake Gyllenhaal who gets involved in crime journalism in Los Angeles. After witnessing a car crash, Bloom decides he can capitalize on the incident by filming it and selling the footage to news stations. After he becomes more involved with his craft, however, he crosses a ton of moral boundaries. Like, a ton—I lost count.
Gyllenhaal plays the part extremely well—it’s possibly his finest performance to date. He lost 20 pounds for the role, deprived himself of sleep, and overworked himself by running 15 miles to the set everyday. The dedication shows—his stare eats away at your soul and his unflinching lack of emotion for the crimes he films is both shocking and disturbing.
There are two more great performances in his costars—the first by Rene Russo, a TV news runner who Bloom sells his footage to. Their relationship is at first amicable but grows increasingly darker as Bloom gains more leverage over her. The second performance is by Riz Ahmed, who Bloom hires to help him film the crimes. Ahmed’s characters grows more and more reluctant to participate in filming them, but his incredible desperation for money drives him far past his comfort level. Bill Paxton also stars as a veteran and competitor in the nightcrawling business.
While the performances are essentially what drive this film, the second half becomes really captivating and, by the end, ‘Nightcrawler’ is impossible to turn away from. The first half is very slow as layers are slowly peeled away from the characters’ perfect veneers. Tension builds, however, and makes the ending even more disturbing, moving, and thought provoking.
This is a relentless satire on the state of media today. Both darkly funny and just plain dark, I found it a fascinating story.
Overall: 7.5 out of 10.