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Nightcrawler - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
Nightcrawler
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Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: A-
Editing: B+



Sometimes a character is almost unbearably awkward, rendering the film he's in borderline unwatchable. Such is the case with Nightcrawler, but there is truth to the adage that good things come to those who wait. This movie, in point of fact, is unsettling in all the right ways.

One might even wonder for a while if Jake Gyllenhaal is miscast as Louis Bloom, a guy with no apparent moral compass and who is driven solely by subversive means of making money. In the opening scene, he's chopping up pieces of chain link fence with intent to sell the materials. A security guard tries to stop him, which is a mistake.

It's not often we see Gyllenhaal as such an amoral man. It can be difficult to see him this way. Add on top of that Louis's social ineptitude, combined with an insatiable learning ability that allows him to manipulate people effectively in spite of himself, and it's quite the uncomfortable potpourri of characteristics. But there is a consistency to Gyllenhaal's delivery that wins you over, in a sort of backwards way -- he makes you believe Louis is a sociopath through sheer persistence.

Louis, a seasoned thief who re-sells his stolen goods at a profit, sees a rare opportunity after witnessing something odd at the scene of a car accident on the side of the freeway: guys with cameras, not clearly from any news agency, recording the actions of police officers pulling an injured woman from her car. One of the men with a camera, Joe (Bill Paxton), rebuffs Louis's request to hire him.

So Louis just takes what he sees as the next logical step: he buys his own camcorder. At first it's a cheap one, but a local news director (Renee Russo) sees he has "a good eye" and needs the ratings Louis's footage will get. Louis understands very early on that graphic footage and interviews with eye witnesses to graphic scenes are what sell, and that propriety should be shoved aside in order to get it. He builds up a business, even hiring a homeless man (Riz Ahmed) as an assistant, who navigates and watches the car, and later even operates his own cameras.

Every decision Louis makes, however, is guided by his own naked ambition -- an ambition to run his own successful business, or even to sleep with that news director, with sometimes fatal collateral damage along the way. Louis blithely crosses ethical lines in his work, which is less surprising as we discover later what he is personally capable of; the low-rated news station, and its desperate director, care only about the technical legalities of showing footage he brings them.

This is what turns an otherwise relatively dull movie in its first half to something unusually provocative and unique in presentation. Sure, this movie features a car chase scene, but one impressively staged, with a new perspective: that of the "nightcrawler" racing behind, and filming, the police cars chasing after criminals. And by this point, the fact that all people are there on those streets at that particular moment, has been orchestrated by Louis. Sometimes it's overtly deliberate and sometimes it's just him seizing a sudden opportunity, but either way he can take credit. A local police officer even begins to suspect him.

Nightcrawler is the kind of movie that might lose some viewers by refusing to resort to attention-grabbing theatrics in its initial scenes, and it's too bad. This movie is worth seeing just by virtue of the singular story it tells.

Jake Gyllenhaal is an awkward and ambitious psycho in NIGHTCRAWLER.


Overall: B+
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2 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
fatpie42 From: fatpie42 Date: November 16th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
You say that Jake Gyllenhaal might appear miscast, but is this kind of disturbed figure really so far from his performance in "Donnie Darko"? He wasn't a psychopath there, but there was a great deal of moral ambiguity. Like when he floods the school or commits arson. This is exactly the sort of role that suits Gyllenhaal best.
cinema_holic From: cinema_holic Date: November 17th, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
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I don't know, it seemed to work better for a teenager, and actually I don't see that direct a parallel between this and his role in Donnie Darko. You may have a point, but I did follow up the observation by noting that he wins you over to believing him as the character in this role and plays it exceedingly well.
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2 comments or Leave a comment