Anne Hathaway, Brokeback Mountain, Cinema, Comedy, End Of Watch, Film, Heath Ledger, Hugh Jackman, Interstellar, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Lawrence, Journalism, Lou Bloom, Love And Other Drugs, Matthew McConaughey, Movie Review, News, Nightcrawler, Oscars, Prisoners, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games : Mockingjay, Thriller
“Nightcrawler” is one of the most enjoyable films of the year to watch, with a good script and a standout Jake Gyllenhaal performance, it quietly talks its way to greatness. It’s a slick two-hour film; intelligent, funny, interesting and dark, it provides fantastic entertainment even when not a lot of story progression is happening on screen. I feel that this is the best film in theatres right now, which is a huge compliment given the big-budget spectacles it’s competing against, such as “Interstellar” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”.
The story is exactly what you would expect given the trailer and the synopsis. We are dragged into the seedy world of night crawling, in which freelance reporters film shootings, car crashes and fires, all in the name of documenting tragedy and pain. Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his competitors must fight to film the most gory disasters they can, in an effort to sell their images to news studios for the highest possible price at the last hour. We watch as the unemployed Bloom throws himself into his new found profession, with all the business acumen you can learn whilst browsing the web, and in doing so we see just how unhinged our leading man can be.
The title “Nightcrawler” doesn’t simply refer to the job which Bloom takes on, it refers to his character, as he thrives in the dead of night and preys on the vulnerable, like a spider spinning its web. His interactions with other people are awkward and strange, and every word he says seems to be the product of something he has read and memorised, in order to fit in with the rest of society and earn himself a place in a working man’s world. He gives himself entirely to the job, and begins to get quite good at it, as he’s willing to go to extreme lengths to get the shots he wants. As the movie progresses it becomes abundantly clear that he’s a sociopath; he has no care for those around him beyond how they can benefit him, he treats them all as instruments for his own pleasure and gain, and his actions become increasingly questionable as he becomes more successful.
“Nightcrawler” is more of a character study than a narrative, although there is a clear beginning, middle, and end to the story being told. If I had to tell a friend what this film was about in two words, I wouldn’t say ‘night crawling’, I wouldn’t say ‘the news’, and I wouldn’t say ‘job market’. I’d say ‘Lou Bloom’. This movie is all about Gyllenhaal and his take on an insane but endearing character, and there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as seeing an actor be this perfect for a role.
There is a social commentary being put forward by this movie, as we are made to consider the effect which the unstable job market has on desperate individuals, and we see what lengths people will go to in order to achieve success. This isn’t just found through Bloom himself, although it is clear that he has a total lack of understanding for social boundaries due to his need to achieve, and the validation he feels when he is told he’s doing good work. As we watch Bloom’s descent into villainy, we also meet people just like him, people who are willing to look the other way regarding his behaviour and his questionable methods. Nina (Rene Russo), his boss and the main beneficiary of his work, ignores the fact that certain videos she receives paint a troubling picture of his participation in the crimes he’s documenting, and Rick (Riz Ahmed), his partner in crime, looks on silently as he sees terrible crimes unfolding. The competitive world of broadcast journalism is one in which Bloom thrives because it’s filled who are willing to keep their eyes closed if it means their wallets are filled.
The performances in “Nightcrawler” are all brilliant, as the supporting cast ably play their supplementary roles, complementing Gyllenhaal’s Bloom perfectly. Jake Gyllenhaal completely steals the show, as he plays a creepy and malicious sociopath; constantly crazy but clearly intelligent, Bloom has no moral compass and is only concerned with his own well-being. Gyllenhaal plays the role as if this personality were his own, so much so that in this movie Gyllenhaal is Bloom; he delivers dialogue in an emotionless, cold, calculated way, so that the audience understands that Bloom has no connection with other human beings, and you are never conscious of the fact that you are watching a movie. Scenes in which Bloom explains his views on the world and what he knows about certain aspects of his job scream of oddity, because it’s clear that he feels the need to explain simple things which everyone involved in normal society will understand. He does this in such a long-winded manner, that it’s plain to see that he’s been researching how he should be acting. He doesn’t belong in a civilised society, our social norms don’t resonate with him in any meaningful way, and the reason I can say this with confidence is all down to Gyllenhaal’s performance.
In the hands of a less capable actor this script would’ve been completely wasted, because a less subtle actor might not have talked in such a blasé manner, a manner which suggests that Bloom doesn’t see anything strange about what he’s doing, and wouldn’t have carried as much confidence into key scenes, such as those which unfold between Bloom and Rick. At times Bloom is quiet and unmoving, despite the fact that inside his blood must be boiling, and you can see through Gyllenhaal’s performance that an inner rage is building when things aren’t going his way, his eyes tell the audience all they need to know. Each line is delivered carefully and thoughtfully, and if it were up to me Gyllenhaal would be nominated for an Oscar right now. His performances are getting better and better, and he is fast becoming an actor I will go to see a movie for, rather than just an actor I like. He’s quite possibly the most underrated actor in the world right now, as he has a great range, playing a convincing lead in “Prisoners”, “Love and Other Drugs”, “End of Watch” and “Brokeback Mountain”.
There was a dark comedy running through “Nightcrawler”, a humour which kept the film from becoming stale or dull during tense scenes, but this wasn’t forced down the throats of the audience, even though it was ever-present in the film. Some of the darker moments in “Nightcrawler” are also the funniest, as Lou presents his point of view to others as if it were the word of God, and expects the world to bend to his needs, causing him to get frustrated and deliver horrid lines without any real emotion. There’s something so entertaining about Gyllenhaal’s demeanour in these scenes, and it really is quite funny to watch Bloom try to get something he wants without giving his feelings away. He has such a distorted perspective on events, and yet there are times at which he presents some of his ideas so clearly and convincingly that you can’t help but want to agree.
There isn’t a lot to criticise in this movie, because all the performances were strong and the story was entertaining and progressed nicely. However, I do have one main issue with the film, and that’s the ending. That’s not to say that it wasn’t satisfying given what had come before, or that I wanted something else to happen, but I wasn’t overly impressed by the abrupt nature of the last few minutes. It seemed as though the writers had told the story they wanted to tell, and so they felt that the movie should just end right there and then. Sometimes that’s fine, especially if the movie is slowly running out of steam and nothing additional could improve it, but I don’t think that’s the case here.
(SPOILER ALERT) I expected there to be some sort of police case presented against Bloom given the interrogation scene which was a key part of the trailer, and this was one of the things I was most intrigued to see. So I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t actually see this play out. The scene wasn’t cut from the film, but it didn’t have much of a part to play, and it was mostly there to present Bloom as the victor of the piece, rather than actually present a problem for him going forward. That was a real shame because it could’ve been very interesting, and I would’ve happily sat around for another 20 minutes to see it play out. I was always expecting the story to take a grand turn, as I had the trailer in the back of my mind, but sadly this was a turn which “Nightcrawler” refused to take.
“Nightcrawler” is a great movie, it’s fun, engaging, and has something interesting to say about modern culture and the state of the job market. The two hour long run time just flew by, so much so that I would’ve happily seen the film extended to get more closure on the story and the exceptional main characters. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think that there was something more that this movie could’ve offered, because the story is pretty predictable and the writers opted to ignore plot points which could’ve been extremely interesting. Despite the fact that “Nightcrawler” doesn’t quite realise its massive potential, it is almost faultless in terms of performances and entertainment, and if you’re considering a trip to the cinema any time soon then this is definitely the one to see above all else.