Lou Bloom: If you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket.
The fall season is a great time for movies. Not only are there a handful of Oscar contenders, but we get a bunch of smaller films that range from several different genres. This year, Nightcrawler has crept onto the scene in high fashion, delivering one of the year’s best thrillers and most stimulating performances from an underweight Jake Gyllenhaal in a lofty role. Writer/director Dan Gilroy and cinematographer Robert Elswit team up again to pursuit a dark, dreary look at the outskirts of Los Angeles. It’s incredible.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a man living in Los Angeles who’s desperate to find work, spending most of his free time selling scrap parts for cash. When he discovers the life of LA crime journalism, his whole world begins to change. Lou becomes a freelance cameraman who travels around the city finding crashes, fires, murder and mayhem to sell to a local news station. Lou becomes obsessed with finding the perfect scoop; so obsessed that he gets to the point where he arrives at crime scenes before the police, altering it in a way that looks best for the news.
I feel like Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t get enough credit. He’s a really versatile actor who elevates Nightcrawler with a powerfully nuanced performance. From Donnie Darko to Brokeback Mountain all the way to last year’s Prisoners, he never fails to disappoint. Nightcrawler sees a whole new side to Gyllenhaal’s ability to act. He shed over thirty pounds for the role. In Prisoners, his character exhibited a facial twitch, while here, his eyes always seem to be wide open. It’s an astonishing role that is sure to garner awards consideration.
Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) is the only relatable personality as Lou’s assistant Rick, a character who has his doubts about Lou’s way of going about work, but reluctantly puts his trust in him. We also have Bill Paxton (Edge of Tomorrow) playing a competing journalist who runs into Lou nearly every time he approaches a crime scene. Rene Russo (In The Line of Fire) bounces off of Lou’s eccentric personality as Nina Romina, an experienced TV producer who has strong chemistry with Gyllenhaal. It’s an all-around solid cast but it’s really about the lead.
Addressing the style of the film, it looked great. The cinematography is is filled with kinetic energy as the tight storytelling emerges. The driving scenes in particular are filmed sprightly with a commendable hand. Gilroy and Elswit previously worked together on The Bourne Legacy, however Elswit himself has a great solo track record. He’s worked on flicks including There Will Be Blood (which he won the Oscar for), Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and the upcoming Inherent Vice. Nightcrawler interestingly displays the streets of LA as a morose place with lots of mayhem to be had.
The film also displays a fascinating take on the dangers and risks that are taken to get the biggest story in broadcast journalism. It’s a scary thought that there are people out there willing to go to great heights simply for the purpose of getting the best possible scoop. The story moonlights as an effective neo-noir thriller but also works as a character study. Lou’s progression is not one to root for; he’s much like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver as an antihero of our times. It begins as a thriller but progresses into horror. The story unfolds into an awe-inspiring experience that is expert in the way it captures its audience. At times shocking and brutal, Nightcrawler is a must-see for movie aficionados.