Monday, 23 March 2015
Directed by Dan Gilroy
Lou Bloom is a thief. By night he's stealing manhole covers and wire fencing to sell for money. But upon driving down the highway one night, he comes across a single car accident. The car is on fire and the firefighters are trying to get a woman out. Lou stops to watch. A van with people in it stop to watch as well, but they climb out with video cameras and begin to film the scene. The fire, the woman, the crash, all being filmed. Lou approaches one of the men after he's done shooting, inquiring if this would be on TV in the morning and on what channel. When the man replies that it would be on the channel that "pays them the most", it sparks an interest in Lou. The next day, he gets his hands on a police radio and a video camera from a pawn shop. That evening he begins "nightcrawling", racing around town to film crimes and then sell the footage to local TV news stations. But Lou starts to blur the lines between being an observer and a participant in the drama, seemingly willing to do anything to make the most money he can, and to get the best footage.
"My motto is, if you wanna win the lottery, then you have to make the money to buy a ticket."
In large part, this seems to sum up a lot of what Nightcrawler is about. Lou Bloom is cold and calculating, but he does so with a smile. He's a fast-talker and hardly ever blinks, bringing a strange sort of intensity. Lou was sort of like Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg, but with the ruthless of Walter White, all done with a smile. He is completely taken with nightcrawling, saying it's something he loves and it something he's good at. But he's willing to do anything he can to get the best footage, which will equal the best amount of money. It's a film about determination and hunger. The hunger to succeed and to do anything to to achieve that success. And clearly, Lou will do just about anything whether legal or illegal, he does not care.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou is pretty much perfection. He lost 20lbs for the role, which accentuates his skull and his eyes that hardly ever blink. There's something slightly off-putting about Lou. He stares with an intensity, but is also overlaid with a smile, so you're not sure exactly how serious he is. You're unsure if he's completely deranged or if he's simply misguided (though the further you get into the film, the more sure you are which side of that fence he falls to). Gyllenhaal walks this line with perfection. Lou Bloom was a very different character than I expected him to be. I hadn't watched the trailer many times, but the image I always had of Lou before watching the film was that scene where he's screaming into the mirror and shattering it. This was the type of performance I was expecting of Gyllenhaal. But what he does with the character is virtually the exact opposite. He's quick-talking and sometimes socially awkward and sometimes socially suave. He's determined to succeed but is also a loner. It's such a shame the Gyllenhaal was snubbed from an Oscar nomination. This performance was fantastic and it really deserved the recognition. I'm disappointed that he missed out.
Overall, the film was just really well done. The cinematography, the writing, the music, everything is done so well. The supporting characters as well, brought a lot of interesting things to t he table. Firstly, you have Rick, the young man Lou hires as an assistant. He was temporarily homeless, and insists he get paid something while working under Lou. Rick is virtually your only sympathetic character in the film. Played by Riz Ahmed, Riz brings naivety but a willingness to do the work that Lou tells him to. Also, you have Nina. Nina works for KWLA, the first news station that Lou takes his first footage to. She's the morning News Director, and is excited about Lou's graphic footage of a carjacking victim. She insists that Lou call her first anytime he has footage. She's excited about pushing the boundaries and getting the most graphic stuff for her station that she can. Rene Russo does an excellent job as Nina. Bold and powerful but slowly finding herself under the thumb of Lou.
I can't recommend Nightcrawler enough. It's a film that will have you on edge but also a little terrified of your main character. It's a slightly uncomfortable film, but that's what makes it's so engaging. It's a blurring of the lines between right and wrong and what people will do to make money and to make their place. You won't see very many performance better than Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou. Honestly, it's just a fantastic film, and I'm not really sure what else I can really say.
Posted by Heather Martin