While this is technically considered a review, it’s so much more than that. In the simplest terms that I can muster, this is a love letter to the cast and crew of Nightcrawler.
I was totally and completely astounded, floored, blown away [insert other verbs here] by this movie and left the theater nearly breathless. Partly from the adrenaline-inducing car chase, but also from the realization that Gilroy and Gyllenhaal created something completely fresh and truly incredible.
Dan Gilroy, who wrote and directed Nightcrawler, is well versed in the ways of screenwriting (The Bourne Legacy, Two for the Money) but this is his directorial debut. And boy, what a debut it is! His dark, gritty narrative unfolds to reveal one of the most dynamic stories and best cinematic characters to date.
So, What's the Story?
Original...and unlike anything you've ever seen before.
The film might be slow to start, but give it a second to warm up. Once it does, it takes you on a one-of-a-kind thrill ride. When audiences first meet Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) he’s a thief, conning his way into petty cash however he can. But, by what appears to be fate, Lou stumbles onto the morally ambiguous, yet lucrative, field of voyeuristically recording Los Angeles crime scenes for local news stations. This means working long hours through the night with an ear glued to a police scanner for any chance to drive recklessly and tape the newsworthy death and gore.
Lou sometimes appears not to understand the way the world works, when in reality he might understand it better than any of us. He’s quietly brimming with intent. Whether this intent is malicious or just a means to get ahead, is something that will puzzle audiences long after they leave the theater.
While a few of the other characters have a vague understanding that Lou is a true sociopath, he finds himself in a line of work that cares less about social standards than it does about good ratings. Like a spider trapping victims in a web, those whom Lou decides to reveal his intentions to are already too close to him to fight their way out. This is an original story and unlike anything you've ever seen before.
But What Can You Tell Us About the Acting?
Gyllenhaal's work in Nightcrawler has solidified him in the category of one of the greatest actors alive.
Gyllenhaal plays one of the most complex antiheroes I've ever seen. His character is best described as combination of Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman (American Psycho), Heath Ledger's Joker with a bit of Taxi Driver thrown into the mix. You don't want him to win, but at the same time he's so determined and fiercely driven that you find yourself rooting for him.
Jake Gylenhaal lost around 20 lbs or so to play the gaunt, wide-eyed, hollow-cheeked Bloom and looks completely different from the A-lister that audiences are used to fawning over. He gives one of the best performances of the year and of his career. Gyllenhaal's work in Nightcrawler has solidified him in the category of one of the greatest actors alive. Seriously, this man deserves an Oscar nomination. And if he gets snubbed, all of my faith in the Academy will be promptly stomped out like a cigarette butt.
The supporting characters are portrayed by a small, but powerful cast. Rene Russo (Outbreak, Thor) is absolutely sensational as Nina, a news editor at a struggling station, willing to compromise her morals to get what she wants. This is where Lou steps in. Since he is willing to do everything to get the perfect shot, their professional relationship becomes twisted as Lou drags Nina further down the rabbit hole with the promise of fame and security.
Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, The Reluctant Fundamentalist), who, with all the desperation of Lou but lacking the determination, plays his stoner “intern” and only employee Rick. Bill Paxton (Titanic, Edge of Tomorrow) is a competing videographer and is fantastic, as per usual. Both characters work well off Bloom to create some great dialogue and revealing scenes.
As much as this film is a study of these characters, it's also a reflection of the world today. People will leave the theaters feeling kind of creeped out. This is because while Lou is an extreme case, he is still just a gross exaggeration of something most of us see in ourselves. The need to be connected, to have a constant stream of information, to know everything, and to thrive in this society exists, to some extent, in all of us. Nightcrawler is just the first film to make it so clear.
What did we think of Nightcrawler?
The best movie of 2014.
Don’t go into this movie thinking you’re just going to see…well, anything. I suggest going into it with as blank of a slate as you can manage. Gilroy and Gyllenhaal’s work speaks for itself, when I'm not busy trying to speak on its behalf.
TL;DR: Two thumbs up. 100% will watch again. Nightcrawler is the best movie of 2014 and Jake Gyllenhaal's career.
Moviepilot also got to interview Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo which you can check out here.
[Nightcrawler](movie:938302) will be released this Friday, Oct. 31