Director: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed
Running time: 117 minutes
When walking into the screening for Nightcrawler, my expectations were ambiguous at the best – promo for the film has been relatively low key. It follows the story of Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he enters the world of night-time crime and accident journalism on the streets of LA. Nightcrawler works to reveal what lies beneath the surface of the City of Angels.
Bloom is, perhaps, one of the most disturbing characters that has arisen from modern film. Gyllenhaal’s performance as an obsessive character, bordering on the psychotic, is absolutely spot on. Bloom’s status as a complete loner and his egocentric ambitions for life emanate through Gyllenhaal’s acting.
The cast also brilliantly emphasises this loneliness. Essentially, there are two other main characters: Nina (Rene Russo), a night-time news director desperate for job security, and Nick (Riz Ahmed), a young homeless man that Nick takes on as his assistant. His main interactions are with these two characters, and tinges of his sociopathic tendencies progressively grow as his relationships with the two develop.
The obsession with money is a huge factor in this film: it is Bloom’s complete and only motivation. Watching him on-screen is like watching a fanatic. He immerses himself in the world of media, playing on the fear-mongering tropes and self-interest that motivates global and local news stations.
This impact of the film isn’t solely effected through actor’s performances, the cinematography is nothing short of beautiful: landscape shots of LA by night are incredible to the eye, and the glinting lights and static movements create the sense of a zombie city whose atmosphere becomes sinister as the sun goes down. Morals fall and the degradation of the city becomes evident.
The film’s soundtrack complements the increasingly darkening tone of the script. It starts with light-hearted and and motivational compositions. When Bloom experiences high moments, the sound is uplifing and, even though he’s a strange character at the beginning of the film, you still unperturbed. Gradually, the music evolves into more ominous tones and traces Bloom’s descent into obsessive extremes, as his already questionable moral compass begins to point south.
Nightcrawler is excellent at what it does. Its twisted and subversive representations of modern America’s relationships with media scandal and the pursuit of monetary gain provide some thought-provoking material, with enough of an entertaining edge to make for a thrilling and tense cinematic experience.