After a somewhat lacklustre summer for major blockbusters in terms of originality, the winter seems to be providing us with what we needed. After the release of films such as Fury, Interstellar and The Imitation Game; Nightcrawler slots neatly into the mix of these outstanding cinematic experiences.
Set in Los Angeles, Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) survives by scavenging and petty theft. He quickly stumbles on to a new career and the world of “nightcrawling” – a nocturnal profession where freelance video crews roam the city, striving to be the first to shoot up-close-and-personal footage of crime scenes, vehicle collisions, and other assorted tragedies, which can then be sold to the highest bidding local news station. Armed with a camcorder and police scanner, Lou proves that he has the determination and the perfect temperament necessary to strive at this profession and sniff out the shocking and grisly crimes of LA.
As Lou wrestles his way towards the top of this cut-throat business, he goes to increasingly greater lengths to catch the “money shot” and secure that bigger pay-check. Director Dan Gilroy demonstrates an uncommon assurance within its audience in his directorial debut. As well as this, he creates an audacious neo-noir thriller with constant tonal shifts and outstanding performances from its cast.
Jake Gyllenhaal provides a chilling performance, constantly hiding behind a hollow smile and an articulate demeanor to trick others into believing him. The performance is unbelievably captivating and unnerving; one that would be a crime to not be considered come awards time with Gyllenhaal deserving every bit of praise for his almost psychotic portrayal of the character.
Nightcrawler also acts as an effective insight – although troubling – into social commentary and the sharp critique of contemporary social issues. The film focuses a lot of its attention with the media’s exploitation of assorted tragedies as entertainment and the demand for it in our contemporary society. It is however amplified and then presented as a dark and disturbing tale about a ghoulish protagonist who prospers by abandoning any moral qualms he might have with the corrupt system and the consequent effects. But there is still truth to the film.
Despite the social commentary, the visual aspect of the film is almost breathtaking. With shots of LA at night creating an eerily accurate setting for the narrative unfolding of Lou Bloom, the film takes a nice blend of a true thriller mixed with an element of horror and action to create a neo-noir phenomenon.
Nightcrawler would be worth seeing just for Jake Gyllenhaal, whose performance carries the film to its worthy position as one of the best films of the year. But it’s also a gripping and entertaining dive into a nocturnal world of ruthless opportunism and dark secrets, accompanied with an enthralling supporting cast acting as the voices of reason, an enticing soundtrack and a refreshingly corrosive satire on moral responsibility.