Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is an incredibly intimate and dark insight into the demands of an LA television network and one man’s ruthless methods of journalism. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers without doubt his best and most intriguing performance to date in this unique and astonishing piece of film.
Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a petty criminal earning what he can by selling stolen scrap metal. Driving home one night, he passes an enflamed car on the freeway and exits his vehicle to discover more when a camera crew (headed by Bill Paxton) arrive to film the wreckage and the police and paramedics at work. After viewing that very footage on the news the following morning, Lou becomes excited by the prospect of capturing a life-and-death situation on film with him behind the camera.
Throughout the early stages of the film, we see Lou grow into a grossly intimate cameraman – getting as close as possible to a bleeding body without any intention of helping the person in need. Professional or slightly twisted, Lou develops into an incredibly skilled cameraman and is soon selling his footage regularly to one of LA’s leading television network as well as hiring an assistant (Riz Ahmed) to help prowl the streets at night looking for blood.
Lou is so intent on capturing the goods; he won’t stop at anything to grab the perfect shot even if it means withholding evidence from the police or moving a deceased body for a more effective angle.
Gyllenhaal deserves all the acclaim he has received for his astounding performance in Nightcrawler. Lou is a complex and an incredibly unique character: a creepy loser, but smart and ruthless – an insomniac but with confidence and cheek.
Rene Russo plays Nina, the television station’s producer who decides what footage will be aired. Again, Nina is a merciless character, determined to find the most intimate and gory footage possible if it means high ratings. “If it bleeds it leads” is one cameraman’s chilling mantra and it perfectly suits Nina’s character.
Nightcrawler is disturbing and thrilling at the same time. It’s beautifully shot thanks to cinematographer Robert Elswit who takes the audience down the dark streets of LA’s underbelly – similar to Drive.
Gyllenhaal has had a stuttering career, but playing Lou in Nightcrawler has taken him to new heights. Such an original character is graced with such confidence from Gyllenhaal, aided by Gilroy’s ability to combine genuine shock and tension with a dark satirical edge.