REVIEW — “Nightcrawler”
A dark, sadistically funny, twisted romp through the underbelly of LA news, “Nightcrawler” is fun if you can stomach its darkness.
Rumor has it that Jake Gyllenhaal lost 20 pounds to play the social awkward, potentially genius Louis Bloom in “NIghtcrawler.” Given his transformation into the boney, scary little man, it wouldn’t be surprising if he lost even more. Louis is a desperate man in a desperate time. The economy is at its low point, there are no jobs, and he is a highly motivated man that will do whatever it takes to succeed…. Regardless of the moral or legal implications. A true sociopath, he has no friends, doesn’t like people, and sees them only as a means to an end. Fascinated by human nature and negotiating he studies (on the internet) how to interact with people, move up the ladder, and become successful. This drive and passion is aimless until one fateful night when he observes a freelance news videographer at work. Pawning a stolen bike he starts out on his own and discovers he has a sick natural talent in this work. The “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality of the news stations is pumped up to almost comic proportions, like a sick version of Ron Burgundy, but they form a perfect match for Louis’ antics. Soon his lust for the perfect shot has him staging scenes, starting with small items, and then growing increasingly daring as he descends further into the rabbit hole of greed and madness. His performance is the highlight of the film, almost channeling a mashup of Christian Bale characters from “The Machinist” and “American Psycho.” Also joining the cast are Bill Paxton, a rival videographer who apparently found the weight that Gyllenhaal lost, and Rene Russo as news studio director.
First time Director (& Writer) Dan Gilroy does an impressive job. Visually, the film is very similar to the best of Michael Mann’s city nightlife dramas. After a montage of trademark L.A. establishing shots over the opening credits almost the entire film takes place at night or in darkened rooms. It’s one of the movies where the atmosphere plays a supporting role.
If anything negative can be levied against this film, its that it’s a touch too long, and Louis’ character arc isn’t very inspired. Besides the wonderful performances and cinematography, there isn’t much of a unique story here. With the exception of a few unexpected gunshots, there aren’t many surprises. But it’s a minor gripe considering it is one of the more entertaining films of the year.
4 out of 5 Stars