Ever since Jake Gyllenhaal starred in the criminally underrated film Source Code, he has been choosing truly dynamic and complicated characters that push the boundaries of those movies as well as himself as an actor. If he stays on point like he is he will undoubtedly hear his name called at the Oscars. With Nightcrawler that time could very well be next February. He is the heart and demented soul of this beautifully written screenplay, and watching his continuous departure into absolute madness is unequivocally enthralling. His performance in Nightcrawler has been likened to the character Travis Bickle who was played maniacally by Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, and I would have to agree with this comparison. A loner sees an opportunity to change his life, and in the most insane ways possible he alters his very perception of reality to do so. Bickle saw himself as a sort of hero of the night who was simply doing what he thought had to be done. Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is very much the same; his thinking is that any length is never off limits if it’s to lead to a better situation, whether it’s his career life or personal. This is a tale of madness and Gyllenhaal plays it emphatically.
The screenplay penned by the director of the film, Dan Gilroy, is a force all its own. These actors are able to take the many dialogue scenes, filled with engaging and powerful altercations between characters, and bring them to life with gusto and intensity. There is not a dull moment in this film. Whether it’s a car chase or an apprehensive dinner date, it’s always edgy and always unexpected. With each new scene we are introduced to another low that this man is more than happy to fall to. The gall of his demands and expectations of others is jaw dropping in his terseness and lack of any sense of reality. The script is indeed powerful and this cast unquestionably ate it up. Anytime I can take a stroll into the mind of someone who is psychologically unstable and do it from the safety of my theater chair I am entirely on board.
Louis Bloom is an entrepreneur, at least that’s how he would describe himself at a job interview. In reality, something he seems to be unfamiliar with, he is a thief and borderline lunatic. With each rejection his hunger for a better life grows and so does his lack of morality. In his ever continuing search for a job he comes across a business he had never realized existed, video crime journalism. When he sees it firsthand he is instantly hooked and begins his own business filming crime scenes. His only stipulation for evening news worthy material is it must be shocking and it must be bloody. Car accidents are where he gets a real taste of the business, but before long his appetite begins to turn to the more premeditated variety. Murder, he soon realizes, is where the money is at and the footage must be audaciously up-close and personal despite how impersonal he is in these dire moments of life and death. He has a saying, “If you see my face, it’s the worst day of your life.” And it couldn’t be more accurate. If someone doesn’t see his insanity right away, they will eventually and may God help them when they do.
Like I mentioned before this is a trip into dark and foreboding territory. It’s an unwavering look at a man bent on destruction if it means his gain. But it not only looks at this one man and his steadfast depravity, it looks at the immorality of the media (in this case the evening news). “If it bleeds it leads,” that’s the motto of all crime journalists and they are simply a product of their environment. Their environment just happens to be filled with detached broadcasters who want shock and awe rather than information and cold hard facts. They will cut and paste a story until they deem it camera ready but the facts they sometimes choose to omit are often important. In a world filled with dissipated, illogical people, for one man to stand out above this he must go to unimaginable lengths. With Gyllenhaal at the helm, Nightcrawler goes to seedy and uncomfortable places, and it does so with a kind of creepily happy demeanor. This is one hell of a movie and this Halloween I definitely recommend seeing the craziness firsthand. It’s not a horror film in the traditional sense but that doesn’t take away any of its disturbing realities.
Rated R For: violence including graphic images, and for language
Run Time: 117 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed
Directed By: Dan Gilroy
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
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