Movie Review: Nightcrawler
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
Rated R for violence including graphic images, and for language, Running time 117 minutes, Drama/Thriller/Crime
Compare to: The Lookout (2007), No Country for Old Men (2007)
It’s great to see actors in their roles that couldn’t get any better for them. While that might be a bad thing, seeing as how people view their best as a stopping point, it shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing in and of itself. Rosamund Pike’s performance in Gone Girl, Michael Keaton in Birdman, and now Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.
The creepiness is set up well from the very beginning as Gyllenhaal’s weight loss is clear and he really does look like a different person. Or should I say a skeleton with skin barely covering himself?
Louis Bloom is a night owl. And a worm. His business hours take place in the early AM and regularly include stealing property to sell it to someone else. But his life takes a turn once he finds out about freelance crime journalism where he makes money by filming things and selling it to local news stations. But as soon as Louis becomes aware that “If it bleeds, it leads,” the lines he’s willing to cross are just ‘Caution’ tape to move under and onward.
There’s no denying Gyllenhaal has always been a good actor. While his films haven’t always been the highest quality, the lengths he’s willing to go to for a role are above and beyond what most would bother doing. And as easy as it is to criticize some of the weirder tactics actors use to get their desired results (Such as Gyllenhaal claiming to Entertainment Weekly that on the set of Nightcrawler that he shares a sole with LA’s coyotes), sometimes they do in fact, get those results.
Here is a total transformation of a guy that if you’d never seen him in anything else to know he’s not a bad looking guy, you’d think he really was pulled off the street to play the slightly deranged Louis, who will do anything to anyone for a good shot. Or rather, let anything happen to anyone for a good shot.
A major undercurrent of the film involves how much Louis is willing to do to film the right angle. You’d think he was sick and you’d be right, but he’s not alone. Every time he goes in for the kill, the local news station isn’t far behind to hand him is check and we get to see coverage acted out in an attempt to boost ratings and this is where the themes really hit home. People in terrible accidents or even murders just become “things” to film for for the sake of ratings. While Louis’ private behavior is detestable and it becomes a bit more public gradually…there’s nobody telling him not to do it because it gives the powers that be what they want.
And while Louis is never shown to be anything more than a greedy opportunist, we also see how others can be dragged down with him. Morally speaking, of course. But if this gets you what you want, why stop there? Right?
Positive: Gyllenhaal’s performance is awesome, the single mindedness of the character and the film align for a gripping of hours with LA’s night scene as the backdrop. Tough to look away.
Negative: The film is great though it’s direction can seem unsure at times.