Did you ever wonder where all that crime footage comes from when you’re watching the morning or evening news… or, at this point, scanning news sites? Nightcrawler will make you wish you didn’t. It is a brilliantly dark and twisted view of the industry that is barely removed from reality. It is Man Bites Dog meets American Psycho with a bit of Network thrown in, and Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) does a brilliant job of rolling all of that into a character that is both charismatic and horrifying.
While Gyllenhaal’s Bloom drives the film relentlessly, Russo (Thor: The Dark World) provides him a target and a foil. Her subtle portrayal of a nearly-washed-up, driven woman is powerfully touching when you get past her bluster. And Ahmed (The Fades) brings innocence and desperation front and center to the story so we can see Bloom operate up close. There is even a collection of real news anchors in the film to lend credibility to it all (though you’d have to know LA news to know that, their personalities certainly ring true for anyone who doesn’t).
Better known for his writing (good and bad) on such films as Real Steel, Bourne Legacy, and The Fall, Gilroy took up both the writing and directing reins here. The result is solid, if uncomfortable, to watch. He remains invisible in the action–the fact that it is a film really drops away as the story unfolds. With the critical success of Nightcrawler, we should be seeing more of his work in future.
This movie was in and out, and back into the theaters over the last few weeks. It is still around, though in limited run as it vies for awards season. The story should also fill a need for anyone seeking out horror this time of year. (It isn’t really a horror film, but it has that sensibility.) I seriously debated with my rating on this one. I don’t know that I could watch it again any time soon, but Gyllenhaal’s performance deserves the push. It is every bit as worthy as the other actors efforts under consideration this year. The film itself is also well constructed with a train-wreck magnetism that is gripping, unlike some of the other vehicles for actors in contention. You watch this movie for the same reason you are riveted to crime footage that is its subject… for the carnage. It isn’t going to be the lightest film you’ll see, but you will remember it.