Published on November 4th, 2014 | by Allan Brown10
Movie Review: Nightcrawler (2014)
Running Time: 117 mins
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed
Screenwriter Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy) smashes his directorial début in what could be the most entertaining and utterly unnerving thrillers of the year.
When Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) – a man who borders the fine line between driven and desperate – chances upon a high speed traffic accident, he bears witness to the underbelly of TV journalism, commonly known as Nightcrawler’s. These self-appointed, crime scene camera operators prowl the streets at night listening to police scanners for the next big hit, fatal car crash or murder in the white picket fenced suburbs of the city. The bigger the tragedy and more graphic the footage, the larger the pay-cheque – “If it bleeds, it leads”.
Transfixed and determined for success, it isn’t long before as Bloom bags his first real horror footage. Eager for payment, he seeks out Nina Romina (Rene Russo), a struggling news producer for a local TV station whose career hinges solely on viewer ratings. Romina together with Bloom’s newly appointed (and financially desperate) intern; Rick (Riz Ahmed), quickly find themselves part of Bloom’s vehicle for success, as well as a living nightmare.
Screenwriter Dan Gilroy smashes his directorial début in what could be the most entertaining and utterly unnerving thrillers of the year.
Dan Gilroy not only paints Lou Bloom as a vampire of the night, skulking in the shadows, feeding on society’s grief and misfortune, but also as a product of today’s capitalist attitudes, and of course the great American Dream. He is a man determined to achieve success by any means necessary, including any ethical, moral or even legal boundaries that stand in his way. Gilroy, in essence, is saying, we have all played a part in the creation of Bloom. From the news cast who demand and air the footage, to the people at home who watch it. The branches of the ethical rights and wrongs in question extend from the root to the tip, and we as a society all play a part in its creation and continued growth.
Somewhere between Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) and Rupert Pupkin (King of Comedy) lies Lou Bloom, and Jake Gyllenhaal not only owns the role, but truly embodies the character in what is undeniably, a career defining performance.
It could be argued that because Bloom is a completely uncompromising and unsympathetic lead from beginning to end, devoid of any character arc, external conflict or redeemable quality, that this may isolate the audience from connecting and in turn cause them to lose interest along the way. But, like Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) before him, we watch the cold and calculated menace that is Bloom from the side-lines, observing and scrutinising his motivations from the interactions of the people around him, namely Nina Romina (Rene Russo) and Rick (Riz Ahmed). These characters are the key to the kingdom and our access to Bloom’s psyche.
The branches of the ethical rights and wrongs in question extend from the root to the tip, and we as a society all play a part in its creation and continued growth.
The supporting cast excel like never before and dynamics of each character interaction with Bloom is utterly compelling to watch. Dan Gilroy catches every nuance of fragility and confidence in each performance, helping us understanding each characters place and tone in the narrative perfectly, and it’s utterly enthralling to watch.
Romina and Bloom’s initial jousting is also a delight. Like an intense game of chess, watching these two powerful characters suss each other out is both unnerving and electric, every single time and Russo plays it to perfection. It is truly a stunning performance. The same can be said for Riz Ahmed who offers a certain fragility and underlying anxiety to his role, which again in turn, grants us further access to understanding the cold and calculated mind of Lou Bloom.
Summary: Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is a total triumph. It's slick, intelligent and suitably unnerving, and Gyllenhaal relishes every second in what is one truly astonishing performance.