Jake Gyllenhaal has littered his career with haunted and broken characters (Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac). 2014’s Nightcrawler sees Gyllenhaal play Louis Bloom, a petty criminal who discovers the financial potential in becoming a video news camera man. Bloom prowls the seedy streets of Los Angeles looking for scoops that he can sell to local news channels but soon he learns that he can help manipulate the stories to earn even more money.
Screenwriter Dan Gilroy makes his directorial debut with this neo-noir, which echoes the neon-lit visual style of Michael Mann. Gilroy’s film is about the right to entitlement, the belief that young people should get what they want simply because it’s what they want. Gyllenhaal’s Bloom begins the film as a thief but he soon learns that all he needs is a camera and a police scanner to make money in a ‘legitimate’ fashion, despite the fact that it’s morally wrong. However, one unscrupulous TV producer (Rene Russo) is eager to buy Bloom’s footage and will pay more when he goes further to get the story.
Jake Gyllenhaal lost weight in order to portray Bloom as a hungry go-getter who will do almost anything to better his situation. He’s a sociopath who only looks at what he can get out of any situation. It could be a monumentally unlikeable role but Gyllenhaal peppers his performance with his boyish charm. It’s a credit to Gyllenhaal that we may not want to like Louis Bloom but you’ll often find yourself rooting for him.
Budgeted at $8.5 million, Nightcrawler grossed $32.3 million at the US box office and $47.3 million globally following its release in 2014.