Dir: Dan Gilroy
I had high expectations going into Nightcrawler. Coming out of the summer, and the end of blockbuster season, it felt like a cool, stylish, adult thriller in the same vein of Drive. A film to welcome in awards season. Apart from the trailer, I didn’t know much about the film, I didn’t know what to expect. The bus advertisements told me it would be a “modern masterpiece” and the poster again recalled Drive. It isn’t a masterpiece, although it is great, and although it shares similarities with Drive, the overall satirical tone made it more humorous.
In the film Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom. He starts off as a petty thief, but is looking for employment. Although his lack of formal education and any kind of experience, means he is met with a lot of denial. After witnessing a roadside accident being filmed by Bill Paxton, who explains that he sells the videos to news channels, Lou buys a camera and sets about filming his own videos. He finds he has a natural talent for this kind of work, and begins building his own business. He sells the videos to Rene Russo’s news director. She tells him that if it bleeds it leads. As she grows more desperate for bigger news stories, Lou becomes more driven to capture bigger stories, leading him to become more intertwined with the crimes he is observing.
The film is a satire on American news coverage. The way in which morals are compromised in order to show an entertaining story is at heart of it, witness Louis sticking his camera into the face of a gunshot victim as paramedics try to perform CPR. It is also a satire on the American dream. Louis, who has no education, no experience, and no prospects, believes he can achieve anything he sets his mind to through hard work. He sounds like he is writing a CV when he speaks, or has been watching too much of The Apprentice. Jake Gyllenhaal is mesmerising in this role. His face is always unsettling, the way he delivers lines appear comical at first, but when you realise he is being serious, become chilling. You start off believing that he has social problems, but at the end of the film you come to see that he is a sociopath.
There is a voyeuristic nature to this film too, we are quite happy to watch these scenes on tv with a screen between us and the horrors, as is Louis when he has a camera between him and his subject. It allows him to get into places that aren’t normally acceptable. We only feel sickened by the methods in which he obtains the footage, not the footage itself. There is also an element of watching Louis as he watches the scenes, Jake Gyllenhaal’s face lighting up as he gets the best shot of the scene. This may horrify us, until we realise that he is smiling because he has shot something that will sell to us, the audience.
It’s a beautifully shot film, which starts off as a satire, before becoming a gripping thriller. Jake Gyllenhaal is stunning in the lead role, and there are some real shocks along the way. The end of the film leaves something to be desired, and it is slow in places. I liked it a lot, but thought I would like it more.