We’re just starting to get into potential award contenders but Jake Gyllenhaal has turned in a potentially Oscar winning turn as the creepily ambitious Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler.
A petty thief, Bloom happens onto a car crash one night on the LA freeway and discovers that he can potentially make money filming gory, graphic footage for the local news and, after getting a camera and a police scanner, sets out into the sleazy LA night. The movie feels like a cross between Drive and American Psycho, with the look and setting of Drive and the character of American Psycho. Gyllenhaal is absolutely amazing as Bloom, who seems to have somehow removed the empathetic and emotional functions of his brain and operates on pure ambition and logic. He has absolutely no qualms about shoving his camera into the face of dead or dying victims and his brashness grows as the movie goes on. He also possesses frustratingly brilliant negotiation skills and uses them against the local news manager who buys his footage, Nina (Rene Russo) and his assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed) in order to further his own agenda. It’s incredibly reminiscent of how Patrick Bateman acted on a day to day basis, with his articulate way of speaking and seeming friendliness barely covering his madness. The movie really is just a showcase for Gyllenhaal but everyone else is great as well, like Bill Paxton, who’s fun as usual as a rival nightcrawler.
If you’re from LA or are familiar with LA, I think you will definitely get a little bit extra enjoyment from Nightcrawler, as the movie travels all over the city as Bloom chases crimes while also diving into the seedy business of the local news. The movie looks excellent, which is where the comparison to Drive comes in, as both movies shoot LA in a way that is both beautiful and grotesque at the same time. As far as the message of the film goes, it feels like the movie is sort of pushing a message about how violent the media has become and how we’re manipulated by the news but the movie isn’t really preachy and it just sort of deposits you in this world and lets you draw your own conclusions. The focus on local news does feel a little bit outdated as we are in an era of 24 hour news and the internet, the latter of which allows footage that is more graphic than anything in Nightcrawler. In general, the character of Louis Bloom and his ambitions are the central focus, with any sort of message just being icing on the cake.
Nightcrawler is a great thriller with an incredible central performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. If you are a fan of character studies of potentially unhinged characters like Patrick Bateman, Nightcrawler is a definitely worth checking out and may be popping up again come Oscar season.
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.