Just for the record, I did not see Jake Gyllenhaal. I saw a psychopath and a creep who looked a lot like a skinny Jake Gyllenhaal. What a performance! If you would ask me before who my favourite actor of all time is, I could never answer you. Now I’m slowly thinking that might be Jake Gyllenhaal. Even in my own screenplays that I’m currently writing my main characters are mostly written with Jake Gyllenhaal in mind. This guy nails it every time in every single project he does.
Dan Gilroy’s provocative directorial debut is a psychological thriller set in an unfamiliarly gritty Los Angeles. The film follows Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), an anti-social and driven man desperate for work who stumbles upon the world of “Nightcrawlers” freelance camera crews who film footages of car accidents, fires, shootings and all sorts of mayhem to sell to the local TV news. The lives of everyone around Lou is put in danger as he falls deeper into this rabbit hole of madness and immorality.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives a mesmerizing and disturbing career-best performance as one of the most memorable characters of the year. He is physically and mentally committed in embodying an eccentric and fascinating human unlike anything we’ve seen before. From his distinct mannerisms to his impeccable monologue deliveries, Gyllenhaal makes sure the audiences can’t look away no matter how uncomfortable the situations become (a particular scene involving a broken mirror will surely be an image that will be seared into your memory).
What is captivating about Nightcrawler is that it does not judge its characters. The film tells a story that delves into the seedy and unnerving realms of the human psyche and it’s up to us the audience to ponder and reflect on what unfolds before them. Gilroy skillfully balances the dark comedy, thriller and satirical elements in the film, giving us a thematically-rich and suspenseful dive into the abyss that will surely stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Although in my directorial opinion, it could be a bit better and darker, but that’s me.
There are a few unsympathetic characters in the film, from Rene Russo’s twisted TV producer to the fellow nightcrawlers (Bill Paxton) Lou crosses paths with who will stop at nothing to exploit tragedy in hopes of making ends meet and surviving in a cutthroat society. The moral compass of the film is Rick (played by Riz Ahmed), a young man Lou recruits as an assistant who is unwillingly made an accomplice as a determined Lou commits one illegal act after another, trying to make his way up the top of the game. It’s not just about being the first to reach the scene of the crime, it’s about creating a story so shocking it would be impossible for people to turn away from.
From the first frame, the film is given an eerie and ominous atmosphere, thanks to cinematographer Robert Elswit (Paul Thomas Anderson’s frequent collaborator) and James Newton Howard’s minimalistic but effective score, I was critical about it at first, but if you think about it the score follows perfectly Lou’s life. Something I can really appreciate.
Nightcrawler is a melancholy subtle thriller that laces fantastic acting with a strong screenplay (which I’m going to find and read) with plenty to say and wrapped together by tight editing and incredible cinematography. This is Gyllenhaal’s movie easily, as his cold eyes, anti-social demeanor, and psychotic way of life makes his character one of the best you’ll see in cinema nowadays. This is my second picture with Jake Gyllenhaal which will enter my list of favourite films in 2014 (the other movie of course is ‘Enemy’).
Nightcrawler gets a 9.2/10.