Friday, November 7, 2014

Nightcrawler: Movie Review


Immorality drives this tale of crime journalism to the end.
Nightcrawler is what Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is. He’s a thief, a beggar, a student of life, a journalist, a wannabe business man, and a man driven for work. He’s lured into the business of nighttime crime journalism and learns how to make a quick buck, and more importantly to him, respect. The fact that he’s making money off of other people’s death and misery (and in essence undermining the police) doesn’t faze him in the slightest. 2014

Directed by: Dan Gilroy

Screenplay by: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo

It’s a morality tale for people with no morals. It shouldn’t be surprising how far Bloom is willing to go given that he starts as a petty thief as a way to earn a living. But he still is a fairly interesting character because he’s convinced that he’s a good reader of people. He thinks he has a very disarming, gentle manner to him when in fact it’s the opposite. His lack of normal human emotions makes him perfect for the job. Filming injured and dead bodies, he’s only worried about what angle to capture all the blood from.

Rene Russo as Nina and Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom in
NIGHTCRAWLER, written and directed by Dan Gilroy. Distributor:
Elevation Pictures. Pictures courtesy of Elevation Pictures.
His strive for perfection in crime journalism is then paired with news producer Nina (Rene Russo), whose only qualms with how much blood and violence to show on TV is if it’s legal. Her co-worker Frank (Kevin Rahm) has moral issues with the videos that Bloom is producing for them and what they’re showing as news, but he’s the only one with an ethical brain.

The other supporting characters include Bill Paxton as Joe Loder the stringer (or nightcrawler) who first introduces Bloom to the world of nighttime crime journalism. While his profession seems particularly sketchy, he does follow the directions of the police officers on the scene. Lou Bloom on the other hand is more concerned with proving himself and very quickly turns nightcrawling into one-upsmanship. And Riz Ahmed as Bloom’s intern Rick rounds out the impressive cast. He’s a guy desperate for work and pay of any kind and actually follows Bloom’s work advice. Bloom has no ethics but pretends he does and Rick blindly follows leading us farther into an uncomfortable rabbit hole where good is unlikely to be found.

(Left to right) Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom and Riz Ahmed as Rick in
NIGHTCRAWLER, written and directed by Dan Gilroy. Photo credit: Chuck
Zlotnick . Distributor:  Elevation Pictures. Courtesy of Elevation Pictures.
The film is arguably asking questions about where the ethical line in crime journalism is and how far is too far. But the answer is quite clear – this is too far. The line isn’t nearly as blurry as the filmmakers probably think it is, and somebody as immoral as Bloom isn’t the character to analyze the ethics of the field with.

The crimes and creepiness of Bloom’s character provide a lot of uneasy times, but it’s still an interesting uneasiness. How each character tries to balance their morality with Bloom’s immorality can give the audience a bit of a connection. And with each scene, Bloom does up the ante of his actions, providing the film with a good structure and drive to get to the end.

Similar Titles:

Gone Girl (2014) - Implores you to not take appearances at face value as the characters cut a dark tale of marriage.

Drive (2011) - Driving a slow and thoughtful character study into a full-on violent crime thriller.

Foxcatcher (2014) - A cold atmosphere for a heartless act.