It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and nobody knows that better than Lou Bloom. At least, that’s what we assume when confronted by Jake Gyllenhaal as the quick-talking, corporate enthusiast who hasn’t quite found his way. Forced to steal copper wiring and metal fences to make a living, you almost start to feel sorry for the young wannabe entrepreneur… that is, until you realise quite how twisted his world view has become.
After stumbling upon the scene of a car crash with a cameraman recording the events as they unfold, Lou decides he’s found his calling. And when he sees those very same images appear on a local news channel the next morning, he soon realises that there’s a healthy profit to be made…
‘Nightcrawler’ delves into the seedy underbelly of the world of televised news. And while Lou Bloom seemingly finds his calling in the career of chasing that perfect crime-scene clip, it’s a slippery slope that sees an already unsettling character grow into the monster that you always suspect he might be.
Of course, Bloom begins the movie with a thoroughly twisted outlook when it comes to personal progression… and as he channels Patrick Bateman with those hollow, soulless and utterly meaningless corporate pep-talks, it’s clear that there’s something not quite right with our young protagonist.
Smart and well spoken, this carefully crafted façade soon begins to unravel when under any amount of scrutiny… but fortunately for Lou, it seems that those around him are taken in by the bland charm of a man working his way up the corporate ladder.
But beneath the single-windsor knot of his favourite tie, lies the icy heart of a stone-cold psychopath. And that becomes all the more clear as his personal interactions start to take a far more sinister turn.
Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliantly terrifying as Lou Bloom, and manages to rekindle the acting chops that brought him such acclaim in the likes of ‘Donnie Darko’. He’s a cold-blooded psycho adorned with smart clothes and an all-too-perfect smile… and it’s not long before delusional rants about his company make you realise that his lies and manipulations come as second nature to him.
And let’s not forget Rene Russo’s startling appearance as Nina – the station news director who seems just as tightly-wound as Bloom himself. Clearly only interested in people who can get her results, she’s just as damaged as Bloom… and while the two lead a merry dance of manipulation around each other, you just can’t help wondering who is getting the worst deal.
Of course, the script they’ve been handed by Dan Gilroy is absolutely masterful. And while this marks Gilroy’s directorial debut, it’s almost as though he’s been making movies for the best part of a decade.
The shots are perfectly lined up, much like Lou Bloom’s own crime-scene videos… and while we may be unwilling participants at times, Gilroy forces us to follow Bloom’s exploits in much the same way that Bloom’s audience laps up the grotesque news bulletins over breakfast. It’s grotesque, twisted and harrowing at times… but we just can’t look away.
Obviously, there’s a certain commentary at play here, digging deep into the cracks in the varnish of the American media. But to look at ‘Nightcrawler’ as a deconstruction of news media would only over-simplify the film. Sure, it’s a damning indictment of the state of the American media – a harsh industry where the likes of Lou Bloom are bound to thrive. But it really is much more than that.
It’s a tightly-focussed, character-driven thriller that pushes the psychological aspects over anything else… and as we’re led further into Lou Bloom’s grim and grimy world, we see that his dangerous aspirations always come at a price to those around him.
Much like Lou Bloom himself, ‘Nightcrawler’ is slick but gritty with a twisted edge that will keep you wondering what depth Bloom will sink to next. And with its brilliantly chilling tone it’s enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Will Jake Gyllenhaal or ‘Nightcrawler’ end up with an Oscar nomination for this uniquely twisted movie? For now, we’ll have to wait and see… but as the news channels would say, viewer discretion is advised.