Several films typically portray news media in a unfavorable manner. Easily due to the shifts most people witness growing up possibly realizing the true intentions of such mainstream journalism, and the inner workings of news media. Many movies that tackle news media simply discuss, or briefly mention how evil, and soulless it is, but very few of them can match the lasting powers that something like Network (1976) has accomplished. However, I also feel Nightcrawler accomplishes the same in depicting the current era of journalism much like Network did for its era. In short, Nightcrawler is classic filmmaking, and fantastically done commentary on its subject matters.
Nightcrawler follows Los Angeles denizen Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) stumbling into a new career as a cameraman, and begins his nocturnal forays across the city in search of shocking and grisly crimes. Being entirely character driven the film hardly leaves Louis Bloom out of the picture in its tightly crafted, and masterful woven narrative. Louis Blood is a charming, sociopathic, and manipulative character written in such a darkly comedic manner one can’t help, but be engrossed by him. Part of his masterful characterization is starting up as underdog in a field he has no experience in, and even less knowledge on. His stick it to the man attitude is brilliantly used to help masked an already trouble character true’s intention. Possibly fooling the viewer into hoping this trouble man will succeed in his new career against the bigger corporation that are his competition. Only to witness more of Louis Bloom sociopath personality in his desire to always be on top.
Louis Bloom writing is similar to a fictional character from a sports story, like Rocky Balboa, and having them go the distance despite all odds. Using a similar method here, but to a vastly different effect that works just the same. Chronicling Louis Bloom hard work in detail from him rigorously learning police codes, waiting hours for a good scoop from police scanner, and learning the streets for the fastest possibles route to get to his scoop. Much like Louis Bloom mentions it several times himself he’s a very hard worker, dedicated, and always set high goals for himself which is shown in great. There’s no shortage of antagonistic forces applying pressure to Louis creating more obstacles for him to overcome. Culminating in the creation of a sympathetic character you’ll find in Louis Bloom despite taking more morally questionable action to stay on top.
Louis Bloom doesn’t so much descend into madness, but rather his true intentions come to the forefront the further he reaches success, and obsessively wants to maintain it. The writing does an excellent job displaying Louis Bloom troubling nature. Just about every interaction Louis has in the film displays his cunning nature in manipulation; especially with his assistant Rick (Riz Ahmed) whom always get talked back into doing Louis work despite it being against it morally. Another subtle trait of Bloom true’s sociopath self is his politeness. Always presenting himself in a calm, and collected manner with a polite tone to everyone. Once he gets taste of being success his politeness takes a different nature when applying that to threaten people. Giving layers to an already well defined character.
When it comes to Louis Bloom, the film passes no judgement on him, and instead uses his position in the story provide commentary on society. Through, and through Nightcrawler ultimately tells a story about how a man seeking a job, and who eventually through hard work makes a successful business for himself. Seeing the method he used, and the moral lines he crossed to reach his goals never once pushes the blame on Louis Bloom. Rather, it is used for viewers for reflect how society itself lend a hand in creating such a person. By using the background of sensational journalism it kills two birds with one stone; illustrate exactly how society created a man like Louis Bloom & the consequences that come for rewarding such behavior, and displaying the shady side of sensationalist journalism. Commentating on these things with a easy to understand character with plenty more around him to dissect. Nightcrawler doesn’t become a complex story to follow, nor are it themes difficult to decipher, but much in the same vein as Louis Bloom, it’s a lot more intelligent than you might think.
First time director Dan Gilroy (who also wrote the script) shows a surprisingly amount of understanding in crafting his movie. Every choice he made in the film can fool the average viewer into thinking he’s an experience director. From his masterful usage of James Newton Howard music to display Louis Bloom triumphant state of mind when perfectly capturing a hot scoop. Gilroy style is one that is in control showing the right amount of restraint between displaying the sympathetic, and sociopath side of his story. He presents the cold truth, and harsh realities around him as well as portray Louis Bloom worshiping sensationalist media without ever telling the audience how to feel. One standout sequence in the film details how a news station usage the morbid footage Louis Bloom filmed of a terrible aftermath of a horrific crime, and showing viewers firsthand look how the news station uses such footage to manipulate its audience. It’s a brilliant scene in terms of writing, and especially direction giving it a an eerie horror like mood to it. Depicting the night life of Nightcrawlers as one full of wonders, and equal disgust in the length news media will go for ratings. Precise, and calculated Dan Gilroy in his directorial debut managed to helm a film all with an understanding of a veteran director.
Jake Gyllenhaal is obviously the man of the hour with a tour de force performance. Gyllenhaal’s weight loss in the film help further emphasizes his definitive facial features, and seems to leave his eyes empty of emotion beyond greed. Contributing to the character’s slimy personality. Nailing his polite mannerism in scenes where he meant to come off professional, and shows subtle violent nature within him when speaking to people privately. His fast talk is just charming as it is perceived to be coming from a complete lunatics. From his smirks whenever he gets what he wants to his eye bulging look that makes him appear ready to snap at any moment. All the while keeping his portrayal of Louis Bloom in check, and actually making him a sympathetic character despite being morally against him. When viewing Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal simply disappears into the role. Jake Gyllenhaal performance makes is worth the price of admission alone.
Riz Ahmed who plays the hapless assistant Rick serving as a good contrast to Gyllenhaal. Keeping his emotions in tack to empathize with his cause. He’s closest the film has to a moral compass. Ahmed expresses fear in the way he speaks during scenes he shares with Gyllenhaal helps portray what kind of hold he has over people while his nervous nature to be firm constantly shown. On the other hand, the film also has Rene Russo who plays news station director Nina Romina. Her chemistry with Gyllenhaal is perfect in every scene they share. She’s commanding, easily approachable, and most important of all underlying evil in her portrayal. Able to slowly show the inner destruction of someone who eventually seeks ratings over ethical journalism. Bill Paxton also delivers to in the film as a enjoyable, and unlikable foil whenever he’s onscreen. Simply being charismatic in his slimeball nature while keeping himself in check.
Nightcrawler is my ideal type of movie; everything just works seamlessly with one another perfectly into a masterful viewing experience. Keeping me glue to the screen, and never looses me in it. Everything about Nightcrawler seems seamless from the natural writing that engrosses the viewer, the great performances, and the very careful direction that elevate the film to where it needs to be. Being both an entertaining movie through Jake Gyllenhaal captivating performance, and a fantastic character study ensures Nightcrawler can be the type of movie that can be enjoyed by anyone.