I heard a lot of good things about Nightcrawler but the trailer had me hooked from the get go. A gaunt and somewhat crazed Jake Gyllenhaal keeps repeating his mantra “if you want to win the lottery you have to make the money to buy a ticket.”. He speaks in clichés he learned via an Internet business course. He’s like a walking talking self help book, which seems so insincere to us the audience but it’s easy to see why the people in the film buy into his hype; they are just as desperate as he is.
When we first meet Lou Bloom he’s stealing construction materials, he’s interrupted by a security guard and while we don’t see what happens to the security guard we later see Lou driving away wearing the security guard’s watch. This is the first indication that Lou is a dangerous man. Lou sells his stolen materials to a scrap yard and tries to get a job but despite his sales pitch, the man who owns the company refuses to hire ‘a thief’. On Lou’s way home he sees a car crash and gets out of his car to take a closer look, it’s then he notices (Bill Paxman) a ‘nightcrawler’, a man with a police scanner and a camera who films car crashes etc and sells the footage to news channels.
Lou decides this is the career for him so he pawns a stolen bike to buy a video camera and a radio scanner. He manages to shoot the aftermath of a carjacking, getting particularly up close, bloody footage which he sells to Nina (Rene Russo) a news director who sees potential in Lou.
Lou Bloom is a psychopath, charming delusional and manipulative. He shows no emotion, no shock at seeing gruesome crime scenes. He’s charming when he needs to be but always, just underneath whatever emotion he’s desperately trying to show, it just doesn’t come off. The desperation, the mania, it’s in those eyes. The fact that you can see these layers of a characters is a testament to Gyllenhaal’s performance, which is fantastic. Critics everywhere are calling this his best performance to date.
Much like Network, the laughs in Nightcrawler come from the business side of things. Watching Nina direct the news from the soundbooth is both amusing and disgusting. News is no longer news but entertainment and the agenda is clear, keep people afraid. “Think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.” Lou will do whatever it takes to get the best footage even if that means moving a body after an accident so the lights show up more injuries.
First time director Dan Gilroy has gone a great job setting the tone of the film and uses every minute of the film to really inform you of who Lou is and this world he’s getting himself mixed up in. Both are ruthless.
Nightcrawler is still showing in selected cinemas so go see it while you can, I promise you it’s worth the admission price!
It’s also getting a re-release in American cinemas.