Jake Gyllenhaal has always been attracted to the darker roles. After writer/director Dan Gilroy’s film Nightcrawler he may not be able to take himself to any lower level. As sociopathic video journalist Louis Bloom, Gyllenhaal has truly outdone anything that I think he’s done before.
We meet Bloom as he’s trying to sell stolen goods, just wanting to eke out a meager living in an uncaring world. Wholly and by accident he comes across the world of nightcrawling, where freelancers film the aftermath of accidents and tragedies and sell the footage to run on local news stations.
After trial and error Bloom soon begins to build a name for himself with one particular news director. But the money and ego stroke of having his footage on TV isn’t enough. He wants more. And whether it’s legal or not, Louis Bloom will get everything that he believes he has coming to him.
I thought Jake Gyllenhaal was impeccable as the uncaring and manipulative Bloom. There were times when he had a hungry and feral look to him, like a wild animal waiting for you to drop your guard so he could finally get a decent meal from your carcass. There were other times when he’d smile and give you an “Aw, shucks” smile and tell you exactly what you want to hear, slowly earning your trust, until it’s too late and you realize that putting your faith in him may have been the biggest mistake of your life. Gyllenhaal slipped from one persona to the other effortlessly, like taking one mask off and putting another one on.
I’d say that this was a character study of one man’s descent into madness and depravity, but I think that to show that descent you’d have to at first be a likeable human being worth rooting for. There was nothing morally redeeming about Louis Bloom from the outset. His actions only became more progressively self-serving and ego driven. I feel comfortable comparing him to some of fictions more popular psychopaths, like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.
The supporting cast was good, but Riz Ahmed as Rick was outstanding. Rick was the guy that you wanted to see get out of there as soon as he could. You wanted him to open his eyes and see Bloom for the scam artist that he was. There’s no room for nice guys in a business like this and you always had a bad feeling that Rick was going to be collateral damage in Bloom’s rise to the top.
Bill Paxton as a slimy fellow nightcrawler was too good. The emergence of Bloom onto the scene sets off an almost animal instinct within Paxton, as if he was an alpha male of a pride of lions and he knew a younger male would soon challenge his spot as leader. With his cheesy handlebar moustache and cock-of-the-walk attitude, he was a pleasure to watch.
Rene Russo was a bit wooden as the news director who develops a working relationship with Bloom. I hate to say that she’s the weak link here,but the way her character ended in the movie was a little puzzling and it threw me off a bit. It just seemed like it went against everything that was already established. You could chalk it up her completely falling under Bloom’s spell, but it just didn’t sit right with me.
For his directorial debut Dan Gilroy should be proud. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, Nightcrawler was a joy to watch. You’ll be watching the news a little differently after seeing this one.