Nightcrawler (2014)

5:22 PM

*mild spoilers*

Nightcrawler is Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut. And what a standout debut this is. Nightcrawler is a fantastic LA noir that’s so far removed from the realm of predictability, that I'm not really sure how much I should disclose. It’s the neo-Noir baby of Drive (2011) and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), nocturnal flicks that are visually stunning, but lacking in depth. Nightcrawler fills that void twofold with perhaps film’s most deliciously sociopathic figure yet. 

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a smart, driven guy who happens upon the skeezy underground profession of 'nightcrawling'; filming crimes and accidents as they’re happening, footage of which will be sold to the TV station with the highest bidder. It’s a revealing  reflection on the Fox News mentality; people want the gory details, the ones you absorb with morbid fascination, the ones that create a state of fear wrapped in a easy-to-process media bubble. But despite the obvious ethics called into question for the line of work, Lou doesn’t seem that abnormal. He’s committed some petty crimes, but he’s dedicated to learning everything there is to know about the job and how to be the best at it with no half-assing. But Nightcrawler has a kind of psychopathic slow crawl to it - an unsettling hum of metal after midnight in those empty morning hours where you feel nothing good could ever possibly transpire. Because while Lou’s intentions reverberate with goodness, his squeaky-clean, no nonsense aesthetic devolves into a cesspool of bullshit soon enough. 

Lou sees a glimmer of success, but with that success, we start to see the real Lou - his willingness to do anything and I mean anything necessary to get that perfect one-in-a-million disastrous shot. The more smoke and bloodshed, the better the price. He isn’t overwhelmingly rich - but like a shark to blood, a tiny taste of success drives Lou wild. And he may be forbidding and calculated in a Jaws spirit, but don’t be deceived by his coolness; Lou is a bottom-feeder through and through. He’s the vermin of society, doing the dirty work and absolutely loving it. His psychopathic profile reads like a composite of Jordan Belfort’s (The Wolf of Wall Street) unflinching confidence and Norman Bates’ (Psycho) detached creepiness. A dangerous combination in any concentration. 

The real degeneracy starts when Lou starts to manipulate crime scenes - from heart-string tugging placements of family photos next to bullet holes, to fresh corpse feng-shui for that dynamite murder house shot. It’s a slimy business, and business is booming. Financing these shady shoots is Nina (Rene Russo), a TV executive for a low-ranking station who at first meet is frosty and unfeeling, but gradually comes under Lou's control. Even amidst the depraved night crawling activities solicited from Lou, the most wretched moment is a sexual negotiation between employer and employee of the lose-lose variety for Nina. Lou all the while maintaining that fast-talking salesman rationality, smiling unflinchingly while attaching requests reserved for the licentious and the  nefarious.

Nightcrawler is vile and beautiful - and I’m not just talking about Jake Gyllenhaal’s man-bun. It’s truly a unique film that doesn’t pander to audience’s expectations. Be prepared to be deceived, disgusted, delighted; take your pick. This is one you don’t want to miss. 

Nightcrawler (2014)
Dir. Dan Gilroy
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
117 minutes | USA

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