Nightcrawler directed by Dan Gilroy and starring Jake Gyllenhaal is an intense and unsettling film that takes us into the competitive world of the TV news cameraman. This is a film that I wasn’t sure of where it was going to go or if the concept would be engaging enough for its 2 hour running time but after seeing it I can without a doubt say that this is a film that deserves to be on your upcoming film watch list, it is sublime.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays ‘Louis Bloom’, a man who is looking for the opportunity at any career that someone will give him a chance in, that is until he discovers a career path in which he can be his own boss and work to the rigorous standards that he sets himself. This career is a freelance news cameraman, someone who appears at crime scenes and captures footage of the terrible events as they are unfolding or just after they have occurred. Gyllenhaal is flawless in this film, it is without a doubt the best performance of his career and I was bowled over by just how captivating he is on the screen. Gyllenhaal brings a cold, calculated and unnerving performance to the character, I never once felt comfortable watching him, it always felt like he could explode and do something awful and then immediately return to this quiet unsuspecting person within the blink of an eye. What I ended up appreciating the most about this feeling was that Gyllenhaal continues to play with that idea throughout the film, as an actor he always seemed to be in perfect control of what he was portraying on screen, I genuinely believed in the character that he brought to the screen which in turn added to the unsettling nature of the character.
Gyllenhaal really puts his all into the role and this film gives him the time to do so. Having the whole film focus on his story and not get bogged down in any silly side plots means that you are given the full movie to follow this man’s journey. A journey that is a prime example of escalation, Gyllenhaal character already starts off as odd and out of place in everyday life but the things he begins to do in the pursuit of advancing his business and earnings for the events he shoots on camera are what make him even more of out of touch with other people. I did begin to find as the film went on that with how removed the character is from reality the more difficult it became to care for him or in the end root for him. This does become a slight problem as there are no strong supporting roles, all other characters in the film are more just people for Gyllenhaal character to interact with or verbally spar with and this subsequently gives you the audience member no one to get behind and root for. Now whether that was director Dan Gilroy’s intention or not I don’t know but it did make the film feel like a crazy rollercoaster ride that you were just watching from a far rather than one you were on and a part of.
Now what this film does capture perfectly is the production and consumption of 24 hour news. We all know that news channels like the ones we see in this film will use egregious hyperbole and scare tactics when informing people of the local news and this film does a great job of highlighting that. This level of believability really helps bring authentication to the events in the film and it something that helped keep me engaged and enraged by the worryingly low levels news stations will go to for an exclusive story.
Plot wise the film is a little light. This is more of a character film and so focusing on our main characters journey could technically be said to be the main plot of the film and for me that was enough but people looking for a little more perhaps something a little more grandiose will probably be left wanting. What the film does deliver on though is a tremendous ending, one that certainly gets the heart pumping as each tense moments passes by and by the time the credits had rolled I was left amazed at the direction in which the film took our main character. This is not a film where the good guys win and all is happy this film like its setting and premise that is unsightly and will leave a nasty taste in your mouth. That is not a slight in any way on the films end because for it to have ended other way would have gone against what the writer, director and actors intention seemed to be with this film.
I whole heartedly recommend this film, if anything so you can witness Jake Gyllenhaal’s incredible performance on screen but also for a film that focuses on a character that you don’t always get to experience in a film. This film takes you on a thrilling ride and it is one that I’m happy I paid to get on.