"I'm a hard worker. I set high goals. My motto is, 'If you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket."
When I’d finished watching this film and was preparing to review it I discovered something startling. Dan Gilroy, the director of this suburban thriller, is actually showing his debut here. I can say straight away, this is what you would call not bad for a first time director. And by ‘not bad’ I mean, quite possibly the best film of the year.
A lone drifter Lou Bloom is looking for a job. One night he witnesses a horrific accident and spots a cameraman filming the carnage. The next morning he sees that same footage on the news and realises that he has found his calling. Assembling a team of free-lance journalists Bloom starts to convert damage into dollars but as he continues to thrive he becomes the star of his own show.
Where do I start with a film like this? I suppose I should begin with Jake Gyllenhaal, I know he’s a good actor, a very good one in fact. But here he is barely recognisable, he seems so out of character from his usual performances, but it works so well. He plays this unhinged sociopath with such ferocity and an eerie charisma within. It’s unnerving and frightening beyond all levels to watch his descent through this tale of motivation and social hierarchy. Gyllenhaal has created given breath to the anti-hero of this generation. He is the same age as DeNiro when he did the very same as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and he gives a performance that easily rivals that of the cinema legend.
This may come back to haunt me later. But I’m saying it anyway, Jake Gyllenhaal is getting nominated for the Oscar. Not only that, but I think it will take a lot to prevent him from winning this year.
Rather than being based on plot the film acts as an intricate character study. Naturally that means your character has to be well-written. And that is exactly what we have in Nightcrawler. Bloom’s goal is not to conquer the world of crime, but he does wish to be successful, through any means necessary. His lack of morality allows him to go to great lengths to accomplish what he wants, and he believes that success only comes to those who earn it. The complexity of this character becomes more obvious on screen, the moral line is warped beyond belief.
Initially it appears that Bill Paxton’s character, a worthy rival to Gyllenhaal in terms of character portrayal and emotional complexity, will be the enemy of this film. But as it goes on you realise that this depends completely on opinion. You want to get a more clear answer of how far you have to go in this world before it becomes unacceptable.
It sounds like it could be filled with social satire, and it is. But it doesn’t go too far until it becomes too comical, it remembers that it’s a drama and it maintains itself in that status throughout . Rene Russo acts as the media outlet who allows Bloom to thrive and she really gives a thought provoking performance. She may seem innocent in this story but she allows Bloom to carry out these acts, she lets a man who wishes to rid humanity of diversity and finds its sense of morality puzzling have access to the most gruesome of crimes.
The whole dark and gritty nature of the film comes from the scary performance, but also the superb direction in which the streets become a maze of death and destruction. The more you watch this film the more you realise that this is what the media focusses on toady. The only interesting subjects seem to be bad things, and Nightcrawler really draws attention to yourself for that, you’ll question why you watch the news. It demonstrates the talent of Gilroy, who not only masterfully directed this film but wrote it as well. Creative freedom has brought out the best in him.
I’m not saying this film is for everyone. If you like things like Taxi Driver then you will love it, but there is a chance that it will still disturb you in a few ways. It’s unsettling to know that so much of this plot and character development is firmly grounded in reality.
Thrilling, dark, stunning direction and exceptionally performed, Nightcrawler is a psychological masterpiece that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.
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