A driven man desperate for work muscles himself into the world of L.A. crime journalism.
Jake Gyllenhaal - Louis Bloom
Rene Russo - Nina
Riz Ahmed - Rick
Although as a film reviewer you have to stay on top of all going ons in the film industry, every now and again a film will escape from your radar. For me this was Nightcrawler. All of a sudden this film appeared out of nowhere and was being constantly discussed by critics and bloggers who were all absolutely loving it! So, spontaneously I decided to head to the cinema for a screening knowing absolute zero about the film except it was meant to be good. What I saw was completely unexpected leaving me agape throughout, especially at the shocking end. Of course my experience was heightened by the fact I had no idea what to expect, but genuinely Nightcrawler is an incredible achievement for first time director Dan Gilroy and stands out as one of the best and certainly most original films of the year so far.
Opening up with visceral shots of the underground scenes of Los Angeles, we are immediately taken in by the vivid cinematography which immerses us into the landscape. The style certainly reminded me a lot of Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive, which for me looked and sounded great but failed in every other aspect. Nightcrawler like Drive places a lot of emphasis on the style of the film which makes use of stunning night shots of the city which we explore via a striking red car. It certainly provides an absorbing experience and we soon get lost on the Los Angeles streets. The soundtrack matches perfectly with the visuals and story, and although the music can be annoying at times it adds a degree of tension to heighten even more the events on screen and disorientates the audience. With the visuals drenched in a sodium yellow and the music echoing the sounds of a city at night, it certainly felt like we were travelling on the Los Angeles roads in the early hours of the morning.
Although a lot of emphasis is placed on the aesthetics and sounds of the film, what really carries it is Jake Gyllenhaal's fantastic performance as the intriguing Bloom, a character who we could watch for hours and hours with a strange mixture of fascination and horror. When we first meet Bloom he is adrift struggling for survival stealing wire, but he is not a basic scavenger. We quickly learn that Bloom is quick, educated via online courses, clever and extremely curious about things. He takes us in with his complex character as you never know where he is going to go and what he is going to say next. As he witnesses a car crash and the cameras arriving to film it, he muscles his way into the world of crime journalism with let's say unusual tactics that reveal another side to his character. Although he appears incredibly calm and cool-headed he can quickly switch over to his more terrifying side that is even more sinister because it is unexpected.
Bloom is certainly one of the most interesting characters seen on screen this year, but he wouldn't be as intriguing without the incredible performance from Gyllenhaal which breathes life into the character that takes us in. Gyllenhaal's performance really is quite remarkable and certainly deserves to be noted at the award ceremonies next year. The monologue style rants he delivers are completely spot on, and I don't think he blinks once in the whole film with his wide and gaunt eyes alone having the power to frighten you. With a seeming lack of empathy and emotion he becomes even more terrifying.
Although Gyllenhaal is remarkable he does not overshadow the other performances. The film provides a real insight into the dark side of the news industry and the people involved with have questionable characters, which makes the story even more shocking. Of course the film isn't inspired by real events, but the people who listen to police radio to find accidents to film for money do exist, as do the journalists who buy their footage represented by Rene Russo's Nina. Russo and Gyllenhaal's characters' interactions on screen are incredibly interesting, as both bring out the worst out of the other. Russo's Nina is desperate to hold on to her job, and out of this desperation allows herself to be manipulated by Bloom who knows her weaknesses. The way Bloom interacts with both Nina and Ahmed's fantastic Rick who is his 'intern' really lets us explore his character with many unexpected developments.
[Nightcrawler](movie:938302) is one of the biggest surprises of the year so far. No-one expected this indie film directed by a first-time director to cause such a splash, but it really deserves all the attention it can get. Exploring a side to the news industry that has previously been shied away from, it is unique, intriguing and utterly gripping taking you on an unexpected and shocking journey that slowly spins and spins out of control. Gyllenhaal gives the performance of his career as the complex Bloom, a character that is one of the most strangely fascinating in modern cinema history. Bloom really takes us in as does the stunning visuals and absorbing soundtrack, on an unexpected twisted ride through the dark sides of LA and the news industry. One of the best films of the year so far, I hope to see more from Gilroy.