The Seedy Seeds of News
A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Nightcrawler reminds me quite a bit of the recent release John Wick primarily in that they’re incredibly dark vehicles that are meant to be incredible career resurgences for their respective the actors involved and I certainly hope that is the case. Jake Gyllenhaal, previously known for romance and the forgettable Prince of Persia, delivers what might possibly be the best performance of his career. Nightcrawler is the seedy tale of a freelancer who realizes the amount of quick money to be made from getting to grisly news first. Bad news is good news and even more so for people like Louis Bloom, whose destitution and desperation is craved so ardently by a media run amok. One of the strongest films of the year, Nightcrawler perhaps may be the sharpest indictment of a sluggish economy that serves the wealthiest while leaving so many of the youth in its inhibitive wake.
Bloom above everything else is driven by pure ambition and a relentless drive to make something out of himself, regardless of whatever it takes. Within a few minutes he is introduced to the realm of video journalism and money symbols basically begin flashing all around him. He strikes gold one night with a shooter footage that he sells to a local news station run by a woman named Nina (Rene Russo). She’s encouraged by the tape and presses him to continue to do his work, not that Bloom needs extra encouragement to continue his work. The paycheck is quite enough. He hires an assistant named Rick and the two progress faster than a high sped rail. Quickly the little integrity Bloom had begins to slip away even faster and he blackmails Nina into having a sexual relationship with him, knowing the financial stake he has in her career. And the film only gets slimier from there.
A vicious and scathing indictment of the modern economy and the lack of ethics in present-day journalism, Nightcrawler shies away from perfection in the second half where suddenly the script begins to lose focus and the dialogue starts to slam the audience over the head. In spite of that annoyance, the film accomplishes a rare fear for filmmaking. You have no idea where the movie is going and that propulsive pace races through throughout the hour with a relentless beat. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and full props to Robert Elswit on that front. Dan Gilroy, who’s responsible for the script, makes his directorial debut here and indeed, what a debut it is. His camerawork here is simply phenomenal. And for a film alarmingly about the extreme lack of morality within the new business, Nightcrawler has an incredible amount of fun. It’s a serious subject but the film for the most part doesn’t take itself overwhelmingly serious. And in a note of how many films screw this up, the geography of Los Angeles is kept astoundingly well in check. Even to someone like me who isn’t overtly familiar with LA geography, upon checking, the film knows exactly what it’s doing in that regard.
Nightcrawler above all else belongs to Jake Gyllenhaal, who is a tour de force in this film. He does lose twenty pounds for the film and the body language of his slightly emaciated form allows him to be incredibly creepy. The seedier and more despicable he becomes, he still manages to retain a semblance of audience sympathy. He’s getting the job done and that makes you root for his success and then suddenly you wonder why you’re doing so before you’re at it again. Rene Russo is absolutely great in this film, chewing up scenery as Nina and completely avoiding the caricature that her character could have become. She’s not unaware of the looseness of morality within the business she’s running, but she’s going to survive no matter what it takes, damn it. Riz Ahmed as Rick is absolutely fantastic, his quickened ecstasy at their job before it descends into a sort of known tragedy. This is an incredible film, one of the year’s best, and absolutely worthy of a watch.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Dan Gilroy
Produced by: Jennifer Fox, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tony Gilroy, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak
Written by: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
Music: James Newton Howard
Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Editing: John Gilroy
Production Company: Bold Films
Distributor: Open Road Films (US), Entertainment One (UK), Elevation Pictures (Canada), Madman Entertainment (Australia)
Running Time: 117 minutes
Release Dates: September 5, 2014 (TIFF), October 31, 2014
Image Courtesy: Whatcha Reading