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Nightcrawler – Movie Review

Nightcrawler Movie

Nightcrawler – Review by Cormac Fitzgerald

Director: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed

In Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a young man looking to become successful in the cut throat city of Los Angeles. We first meet Bloom as he scrounges through scrap metal looking for copper wiring before selling it on to a construction worker. He is very skinny, with long greasy hair and eyes that pop out of his skull and he speaks in a clipped, clear manner. While driving home one night Bloom comes across a car crash and sees a camera crew rush to film the scene. These are “Nightcrawlers”, people who drive around L.A. filming car crashes and other disasters to sell the footage to local news stations. Bloom sees an opening and gets himself a police scanner and a camera and films his first crash to sell on to a local channel.

This is the springboard for the film into the dark, seedy world of disaster footage specialists. Bloom seems to lack any empathy or compassion and has no problem getting up close and personal with victims, which makes him very successful in the business. His competitors are nasty and mean spirited, like greasy veteran Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), but Bloom is something different – a positive, upbeat sociopath spouting an endless stream of self-help book diatribe and slogans.

He develops a working relationship with a local news morning show and its ageing producer Nina (Rene Russo), who uses Bloom to get ratings but soon has the relationship turned upon her. He gets a proper van and recording equipment and can even afford to hire low paid intern Rick (Riz Ahmed). Bloom becomes so adept at his job that he even enters and alters crime scenes to get the best shot, and he isn’t afraid to disrupt police investigations or allow disasters to unfold as long as he gets to be the first one on the scene.

Nightcrawler is an original and powerful movie – turning the lens on a fascinating section of the news world and the people who document it. Gyllenhaal is the star of the show and gives an outstanding performance as the creepy, shifty Bloom, a character who will definitely enter the canon of unforgettable anti-heroes. He is at once disarmingly polite and dangerously psychopathic – a twisted mish-mash of corporate slogans and American values that create a truly captivating, sickening and, worrying as it is, strangely likeable character.

His supporting cast play off Bloom excellently: Nina is a near-washed up TV producer who he takes a disturbing interest in, and it’s not nice to see how far she will go for ratings; Rick is a barely educated deadbeat who comes into his own and provides brilliant comedy as the two speed around the inky LA night.

L.A. looks fantastic in blacks and purples contrasted with the lights of endless traffic. Writer and Director Dan Gilroy (in his directorial debut, believe it or not) does an excellent job of bringing together the various strands and keeping the movie on a straight road. A steady pace is kept throughout with witty and disturbing dialogue and moments of laugh-out-loud humour mingled with high-octane car chases and moments of nail-biting suspense. In the last quarter, however, the movie shifts to fifth gear and the climax is a brilliantly executed, adrenaline fuelled joy-ride that will have the entire cinema on the edge of their seats.

Nightcrawler is a modern tale of the twisted values of the American Dream. It is disturbing, powerful, important and darkly funny.

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