Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler is the creepy confident news stringer who teaches himself the ropes and the film will strike a jarring chord with all who watch it. The movie’s unflinching look at the six o’clock news coverage of the terrible things that happen to the public, aka their viewing audience, by the use of roving camera teams will change how Mr. and Mrs. Average will see the news in general. The film punches home the fact that bad things happen to good people and that it takes the odd, creepy and dispassionate to capture these violent and gory events when they happen.
It is hard to believe that the same man who brought the world the beautifully touching 2006 film The Fall wrote and directed Nightcrawler. Dan Gilroy is sitting in the director’s chair for the first time, he also wrote the screenplay, and he confidently helms this odd story of an idiot savant who teaches himself the tricks of the trade. The character of Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an odd quirky thief who the audience meet while stealing chain link fence to sell.
After being approached by what appears to be a security officer, he struggles briefly with the authority figure, taking the man to the ground. Immediately after, Bloom is driving his car which is full of stolen metal items, and heading to a scrapyard. Once there he haggles for more money, tries to get a job at the facility, and after being informed by the owner that he “will not hire a ‘f***ing’ thief, stops his incessant self promotion and leaves.
The next time the audience see Bloom, he is sitting in the sun and when a man chains his expensive bicycle to a lamp post near Bloom, Louis steals it and then sells it at a pawnshop. He also haggles with the shop owner to get the price up of the obviously stolen bike. These scenes show that Gyllenhaal’s character is an unabashed opportunist, thief, loner and he is self educated via the Internet.
Nightcrawler could be seen as Hollywood’s sly dig at paparazzi type activity. Showing the public that those individuals who take pictures and film celebrities and real life “newsworthy” events are creepy and over confident news stringers who are jarringly adept at capitalizing on fame and gore. Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom will strike a disturbing chord with the audience as the money hungry, notoriety chasing camera man who is not above sacrificing anyone and anything to get credit, and payment, for the money shot.
In the movie Bloom learns early on that it is about the blood and the fear. Rene Russo, as news director Nina Romina, plays the woman who teaches Louis what to look for in his footage and later becomes entangled with the weird and driven nightcrawler. *On a side note: In the film, the term nightcrawler is used to as slang describing the people who roam the streets at night as news stringers capturing images that can be used on the morning news. Looking up urban definitions of the word show that in whichever context it is used, the meaning is mostly negative.*
Bill Paxton plays the competition, Joe Loder, whom Louis emulates at first and then leaves behind as he moves up the news foodchain. Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Closed Circuit) plays Rick, Blooms hapless assistant who learns too late just how far his boss will go to get what he wants. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the independent, creepy, confident news stringer with an intensity that is disturbing. In real life, if any of the audience were to come into contact with Louis Bloom, he would strike such a jarring chord that interaction would cease immediately and the man would be avoided at all cost. Nightcrawler opens on October 31. Prepare to be disturbingly mesmerised by Gyllenhaal’s performance and the story, do not miss this one as come awards time in Hollywood, this film should garner some gongs.
By Michael Smith
AMC Town Square Theater 18