Nightcrawler sees Jake Gyllenhaal continue to litter his career with haunted and broken characters (Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac). Gyllenhaal plays 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.
Nightcrawler is a modern day parable that holds a mirror up to everything that is wrong with modern culture. It illustrates what people will do in order to get what they believe they deserve, while also highlighting how the media helps to feed this. Gilroy looks into the media’s voyeuristic nature and how it completes the cycle of self-entitlement. However, the film also works as a thriller and a black comedy that finds the thrills and the dark humour in a job that sees people prowling the streets looking for death and danger. Jake Gyllenhaal’s role is at the centre of the film and he delivers a (Bafta nominated) performance that is likely to be one of the best of his career.
An informative commentary from director Dan Gilroy and his brothers (Tony and John) and a brief if informative making of documentary.