Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler (2014) is a satirical thriller that attracts your attention and never lets you go. It is not a coincidence that Gilroy was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscar Academy Awards. What is more, Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globe in the same year; however, I think he would have definitely deserved to win that category. Even if he already has other successful movies such as Prisoners or Donnie Darko, he seriously presented himself in Nightcrawler as someone who is worth to watch. Welcome in this industry, Jake Gyllenhaal! At first, the film had its world premiere at the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and, after that, it was released theatrically by Open Road Films on October 31, 2014. It grossed at the opening weekend $10.4 million, and, at the end, it earned $32.4 million in the United States and Canada and $15 million in other countries.
Jake Gyllenhaal is starring as Louis Bloom, who genuinely looks like a creature of the night: he is pale, fleshless and has huge sunken dark eyes. Who would not be afraid of him if, additionally, he happens to be dreadfully and disturbingly calm as well?! He is stealing steel, bronze and other material for a living while he is seeking a job. He wants to do something else; however, no one wants to give him a chance. One day, he witnesses an accident and he sees how some men just show up and record the whole thing. He learns that they intend to sell their footages to a TV news program. So, Bloom decides to get into it. He sees the opportunity in it, he can be his own boss and he does not have to rely on anyone else. He starts doing that, hires a homeless man to be his intern called Rick and after a few occasions, the TV station where he sells his own work is impressed with him. He demands more and more money and fame, and he cheerfully blackmails Nina, who is the manager of the station. Later, he comes across a murder and gets there before the police do and records the dead bodies. He records and arranges other things as well, but I am not going to ruin the whole movie with spoilers. All I have to say that it is a must see.
Despite the summary of the plot, it would be a mistake to suggest that Nightcrawler is told from Lou’s point of view. The director maintains just the right amount of distance from Lou and thus one cannot simply look down on him. He, on first glance, might strike as a reasonable guy who is smiling all the time. In the movie, he describes himself as a quick learner, although it is not a pompous act. Soon, he is paying more attention to what he shoots and he tries to compose his frames in order to maximise the emotional impact. Undoubtedly, he is not an ambitious weirdo but, in his own way, a real artist. Even if he has a strange and scary bug-eyed stare and his grin could serve as a basis for a bestselling Halloween mask. He could be the face for a new Scream mask, I would say. It is not an accident that the actor lost 10 kgs for this movie. One will never forget the scene when Lou says “I feel like grabbing you by the ears right now and screaming, ‘I’m not fucking interested,'” in sort of a tone one might order his or her dinner at a restaurant. His acting is just brilliant!
However, we should not forget the most important message of the movie: the modern social media-driven culture of continuous surveillance threatens to turn us all into bloodthirsty voyeurs. The film is about how a sociopath gets over on everyone else for fame and success while he is not afraid to disgrace the victims. The entire film is, among other things, an attempt to treat certain American myths (and yes, I am talking about the great American Dream) within the context of a somewhat realistic drama. I am sure that everyone has a great vision of Los Angeles, or at least knows a person who is obsessed with LA. The movie is exactly about the beautiful and gorgeous aspects everyone would think of this city. However, on the contrary, it presents a totally different point of view that has an outrageous and shocking impact.
What is also contributing to the movie’s success is the amazing artwork of the cinematographer Robert Elswit and the musician James Newton Howard. Elswit makes the lights of Los Angeles into a place full of darkness though he also uses beautiful montages just to get a sense of being at a really wonderful place. This is a classic film and not just because every scene and line is casually beautiful, but because its tone is mercilessly exact while Howard’s triumphant retro music pulses in our eardrums. However, one should not forget that everything is not what it seems. If something is beautiful in the outside it does not mean that it is beautiful in the inside as well. Beware of the bright side of fame, and live consciously. Do not let the society to turn you into a pusher or a social climber. This is the reason why the audience cannot really blame Lou for his actions. The media has turned him into a person who does not care for anyone else but fame even if he has to become a filthy man.
All in all, the film remains an amusingly sick joke. Or, is it not a joke at all? Are you capable of believing what the film represents could be the actual reality? We live in a society that pushes forward in the name of progress and ones tend to forget that people who they are willing to overwhelm are actual human beings. Media manipulation is a big issue nowadays and, after you have watched the movie, you will realize how frightening it really is. We get a feeling for the thrill of the “nightcrawling” life, running along the highways from one horror to the next. I seriously do recommend it to everyone. I might say it is for people who are interested in the media. That would be obvious, right? But I will not! This is about the real world, real life and I think everyone should be able to look beyond and see what really happens to all of us. This movie is a must see with its beautiful montages and the amazingly creepy acting of Jake Gyllenhaal that one will never forget.
Pictures from: Nightcrawler’s IMDB page
Sources from: Nightcrawler’s IMDB page