When Lou Bloom (Gyllenhall), a driven man desperate for work, breaks into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.
This looked absolutely amazing from the first time I saw the trailer. Jake Gyllenhall really ups the ante as photographer and cameraman Lou Bloom, down on his luck and unable to find work he seeks out inventive ways of making money and becomes a nightcrawler, the name given to people who trail accidents, fires and emergencies in order to film the scenes and sell them onto the broadcasting networks. On the surface you feel like he is capitalizing on the suffering and misfortune of others whilst another part of me felt sorry for a man who was stuck in a desperate situation.
The real skill in the writing of NIGHTCRAWLER is how the character of Lou changes, at first as he is selling scrap metal and begging for work in a scrap yard you almost feel sorry for him, his character comes across as somewhat simple. With his early news footage he captures, though basic and amateurish in content, the networks pay him peanuts for it so you almost feel as if we should feel sorry for him. What is really clever is how underneath that simple demeanour lays the character of a man who is anything but, working with a network and a news producer who is under fire for poor ratings or using his sidekick as an intern, sees him start to take back the power and underneath it all you begin to see how he uses people to get him to the next level, almost becoming celebrity like in his status.
This is a very inventive and talented movie that I loved to bits. Yes Lou is a bit of a bastard underneath but despite all of that he is almost likeable and even when he is witness to a crime his creativity and intelligence manages him to elude and stay one step ahead of the police. Whenever you feel the net closing in he manages to sidestep it and you almost begin to wonder how much of it was really an act, that initial desperate simple man was really just playing that role in order to get him to the level he needed to be at next.
NIGHTCRAWLER is awesome, it never lets up in its intensity nor is it ever boring, so much of it is set at night and is full of seedy characters and high speed chases; this will easily roll into being one of the greatest films of this year.
I wasn’t sure before watching that this dark thriller was going to be something I’d be reviewing for Real Reel Scares, but I was clearly wrong. In Louis Bloom, Jake Gyllenhaal has created a truly scary character who epitomises the dysfunctional American Dream of today as iconically as Pacino and Tony Montana 30 years ago. Bloom is a loner who’s work ethic would be applauded by right wing politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. The single minded way in which the never entirely sane Louis Bloom completely amorally pursues his plan of documenting, manipulating, and finally creating the news, is fascinating as it is chilling. Where Gyllenhaal triumphs is in somehow making the audience empathise and care for his character. We want him to escape getting caught by the police, even as he calculatingly takes out the competition, sacrifices innocent bystanders, and most chillingly deals with his ’employee’. it’s a bravado performance that dominates the picture.
First time director Dan Gilroy has written and directed a 21st Century noir. the film exposes the dark underbelly of Los Angeles on a physical level, but more than that lifts the lid on the decaying state of the American Dream. In a society where the poor no longer work for food, but for free in the hope of eventually being able to work for food. NIGHTCRAWLER permeates with a desperation. All of the characters in the film are desperate. Desperate to get a job, or keep a job, either way the message is clear, if you won’t do what needs doing someone else will. In this modern day LA, the reality is that of dog eat dog. Rene Russo’s TV news editor, and Riz Ahmed’s sub minimum wage ‘intern’, are both used by and changed by their experience with Bloom. By the latter stages of the film both are prepared to put a price on their morals, doing whatever it takes to secure their jobs or to just get a living wage.
This is a film that will doubtless be discussed for years to come, but for now it is one of the years very strongest films. It is intelligent, and so very very dark. I was gripped from the beginning, and had the beginning of a tension headache by the end.