“Nightcrawler” is provocative

Jacob Stocking ’15

Reviews Editor

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his partner Rick (Riz Ahmed) attempt to capture graphic imagery for the TV news stations in “Nightcrawler.”

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his partner Rick (Riz Ahmed) attempt to capture graphic imagery for the TV news stations in “Nightcrawler.”

Nightcrawler” is the directorial debut of longtime screenwriter Dan Gilroy. The title refers to “nightcrawlers”, news journalists who prowl the city at night looking to document crime and sell it to news stations. For his first time in the director’s chair, Gilroy has managed to craft an eye-capturing, noir-like portrayal of Los Angeles. Tonally, the movie shifts between intensely thrilling and darkly comedic, and it all works very well.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a thief-turned-video news journalist named Louis Bloom. Bloom is a very strange man, to say the least, but whatever is wrong with him is never explicitly stated. He appears to be sociopathic and obsessive, and Gyllenhaal plays this disturbing character to perfection. It is truly a marvelous performance, and it is impossible to take your eyes off of the character whenever he is on screen. Gyllenhaal imbues Bloom with such unique mannerisms, facial expressions, and verbal ticks that it is almost impossible to recognize the actor. Gyllenhaal really went all out for this character (even losing 20 pounds for the role to make himself look more weathered), and is certainly a favorite for Best Actor come Oscar season.

The main crux of the plot is watching Bloom sink to deeper and deeper levels to achieve the type of stories the news station wants. The film as a whole seems to be very critical of the television news industry, and the “if it bleeds, it leads” style of journalism they feature. As Bloom’s shots get more and more disturbing, the higher his stock in the news industry rises. The characters in the film are presented as being exploitative of the tragedies and suffering of others.

As stated before, Gyllenhaal’s performance is the highlight of the film, but the supporting cast is great as well. Riz Ahmed (“Four Lions”) plays Bloom’s beleaguered partner Rick, and the exchanges between him and Bloom provide many of the film’s funniest moments. The always great Bill Paxton (“Aliens”, “Apollo 13”) portrays Joe Loder, a rival “nightcrawler” of Bloom’s. Rene Russo (“Thor”, “The Thomas Crown Affair”) plays the ratings-obsessed Nina, to whom Bloom sells his footage. Another interesting note about the cast is that many of the minor characters are real life newscasters playing themselves.

Though this reviewer found the movie to be spectacular, it is certainly not for everyone. Some viewers may be put off by the downright disturbing nature of Gyllenhaal’s character, especially since he is the “protagonist” of the film. The final act of the film also did feel a little rushed, and didn’t exactly pay service to the rest of the movie. Regardless, it is absolutely worth checking out even if it ends up not being everyone’s cup of tea.

Overall, “Nightcrawler” is a thought-provoking film that manages to be both intensely gripping and comical. The performance by the lead actor is quite possibly the best from anyone this year, and it is worth seeing the film for that alone. I give “Nightcrawler” four and a half stars.