Nightcrawler is a thriller written and directed by Dan Gilroy, staring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, and Bill Paxton. It is a notable film that makes for a very uncomfortable viewing. While deserving a longer review, I will try, in the spirit of this website, to keep it short.
Nightcrawler tells the story of Lou Bloom, played by Gyllenhaal, a young person that seems to barely survive by stealing from construction sites scrap for sale. Discovering by chance a better way to make a living, Bloom turns to shooting video of news-worthy crime scenes, which he then sells to a TV station as a freelancer. Thus Bloom becomes a Paparazzi of crime.
Gyllenhaal, who had lost weight for the role, has an appearance that shifts from low-key when he wants it, to eccentric and menacing. Everything about his character, from wardrobe to his hairstyle, the gaunt face and the wide open eyes, screams freakish. Bloom has a unique mix of desperation -- of a man who had been on the verge of hopelessness, combined with arrogance and a sense of privilege. Thus, in multiple ways, Bloom represents the society of our time. He is an entrepreneur who survived an economic downturn, trained on seizing opportunities, self-taught, speaks in a language taken from large corporate memos and motivational training, and would stop at nothing to get what he wants. This includes devising ways of removing obstacles, including people, from his path. Is he a psycho? Absolutely yes. But yet he can be quite a few people we all know. Here lies the genius of the script, written by Gilroy and delivered to perfection by Gyllenhaal: Bloom’s character creates a conflict in the viewer -- a wish to root for him as the underdog protagonist, combined with deep disgust at his actions, morals, and his overall psyche.
In some ways Nightcrawler reminds me of the superb 1976 Paddy Chayefsky, Sidney Lumet film 'Network', updated for our time and told from a very different angle. Both movies have a theme of greed that puts TV ratings above reason and human suffering; yet each focuses on a different range of that same spectrum.
Nightcrawler enjoys a solid script which is elevated to a masterpiece by the brilliance of Gyllenhaal’s performance. Gilroy’s direction is smooth and confident, especially given that it is his directorial debut.