Nightcrawler is another film that was released a few years back that I had the intentions of seeing, but didn’t.
Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis “Lou” Bloom, a criminal turned freelance photojournalist after he witnesses how much he can profit from videotaping crime scenes. Bloom then begins working as a stringer for the local news station, giving them all the latest stories before any other media outlet (or even the police) get to it. He starts to take things too far when he begins manipulating crime scenes and withholding information from police.
This film attempts to challenges a lot of ideas in the world of broadcast journalism. Concepts like how violent can (or should) the news be, journalistic integrity, and the dangers of sensationalist news are all thoroughly discussed. At times this could get a little annoying and overbearing. It felt as though the director was beating me over the head with messages that I hear all the time from other sources. However I think these themes were dealt with in such an over the top way that I kind of respect Nightcrawler for it.
There is one point when Bloom brings a video he recorded of a fresh crime scene to the news station. The station news director Nina (Rene Russo) previews the tape, which is full of bloodied murder victims. Knowing that it will cause the station’s ratings to soar, Nina airs the tape. To me, this was the most shocking scene in the film. While I know it was very exaggerated dramatization, it gave me an uneasy feeling that these are the moral standards that news stations live by. With no true care for the victims of crime or for their privacy, only chasing the next big news story. Existing with zero morals and no journalistic integrity whatsoever.
The visual style of Nightcrawler is laid back and enjoyable. I noticed that most of the film only takes place at night, setting a dark and drab tone throughout. The camera work was pretty standard, as nothing really stuck out at me as unique or bad.
One of the most enthralling parts of the film was Jake Gyllenhaal’s character. His performance was fantastic, he played a very convincing sociopathic loner. There were scenes in Nightcrawler where his character would ramble on and on about peculiar topics, creeping out whoever was speaking with him. Gyllenhaal would get bug-eyed and have this eerie face reminiscent of his performance in Donnie Darko.
Gyllenhaal’s character does seem to be a little underwritten, and I didn’t quite understand the motivations of the character at points. I took Lou Bloom as a sociopath who fancies nothing but being at the front of the news. Which is a fine direction to take, but I think the way his character behaves at the beginning of the film contradicts this. However this is only a nitpick because Gyllenaal puts a lot of effort into this role, and it really shows. Nightcrawler wouldn’t have been the same without him.
At the end of the day I would have to give a recommendation to Nightcrawler. While I wasn’t blown away by the film, I think Jake Gyllenhaal’s role was great. The underlying themes Nightcrawler deals with are ever so relevant, and they are so over exaggerated and outrageously portrayed that hit hits the points home nicely. If you were like me and missed Nightcrawler the first time around, go ahead and give it a watch. It is definitely worth it.
The Verdict: B+