Movie Review – Nightcrawler (2014)

Director: Dan Gilroy

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed

Man, Nightcrawler was so rubbish I mean, I don’t mind taking liberties with comic adaptations and I appreciate that they made him part of the media circus rather than a regular circus, but c’mon, they changed his name and he wasn’t blue….he didn’t even have tail or teleport! And there wasn’t a supervillain. Worst superhero hero film eve-….wait, what? You mean it’s not about the X-Men character…..ohhhh, er, awkward…

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is struggling to find a job at the beginning of the film but when he stumbles onto a car accident he sees someone (Paxton) capturing footage, and is introduced to the business of ‘nightcrawling’. He gets a camera and hires an intern (Ahmed), and starts to record footage to sell to Nina (Russo), the producer of the news. With high goals and a determined attitude, Lou starts to take more risks and pushes the boundaries of his job.

Nightcrawler is amazing and Gyllenhaal gives an amazing performance, owning the screen in whatever scene he’s in. From the beginning we see that he’s ruthless, cunning, and determined, and as the film continues we also discover that he’s more than a little unhinged. It’s a performance that will entertain and frighten in equal measures, as he pushes the limits on what we consider moral and ethical. The interplay he shares with Ahmed gives the film some moments of levity, which help break up the dark nature of the film.

And this is a very dark film. Most of the action takes place at night and the director captures the seedy, gritty atmosphere that’s slick with tension. I was engrossed from start to finish and found myself experiencing several different reactions and emotions. One does admire Bloom’s determination to make something of himself, but as he gets further and further into morally questionable territory you’re taken along with him, and you start to question whether it’s actually justified. These happen by small margins so at first you think, well, that’s not quite right but I can see why he did it, and it’s not really harming anyone, to then thinking okay, well, I can see why he’s doing it but it’s going a bit far now, and then, oh crap, I can’t believe I ever found this guy likeable.

There’s also some commentary about the way the media twists the news coverage to put the scariest and bleakest interpretation of events, and thus also makes us start to think about how we consume the news. There’s a lot of substance to the film but it’s never overwhelming. The pacing is perfect and I was surprised to learn that the director, Dan Gilroy, is making his debut. It’s certainly a strong one and I look forward to seeing his next film.

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