This review will be shorter than usual, because you need to see this film immediately. Nightcrawler (2014, dir. Dan Gilroy) is a creepy and atmospheric portrait of pathological obsession and questionable ethics. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis “Lou” Bloom, a young man who is looking for a job. When he stumbles upon the fast paced lifestyle of freelance cameramen who film late-night crime and accident scenes and sell them to news stations for a tidy sum, Louis sets out to become the very best. However, as his success grows, so too does his thirst for more brutal and gruesome scenes.
Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in this film and it is an unquestionable truth that he was robbed of a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination at this year’s Oscars. I’ve never seen him in a role like this before; the kind of role where you almost want to stop watching because you hate his character so much, but you can’t look away because you want to know what he does next. It amazes me how Gyllenhaal can turn his usually affable smile into something so sinister and awkwardly wrong, and portray a charming yet undeniably sociopathic individual with such congruence. I absolutely loved his performance. Gyllenhaal almost disappears into this distasteful monster character and it’s thrilling to see.
Gyllenhaal is counterbalanced by Rene Russo as morning news director Nina Romina, who was the perfect choice for this role because she has that quality of “I know who you are but I can never remember your name” – a feeling that’s so frustrating yet also compelling. Her cool and confident demeanour is the perfect contrast to the constant edginess of Louis Bloom. Further, Louis’ sidekick-slash-intern Rick Carey, played by Riz Ahmed, is also a good counterbalancing factor, adding comic relief in the form of dry humour that is so welcome after some extremely tense scenes.
One category that Nightcrawler was nominated for at this year’s Oscars was Best Original Screenplay, and I would absolutely agree with that nomination. The dialogue is so great, and Gyllenhaal and his co-stars all make the script their own. Gyllenhaal really does deserve some form of commendation for his performance because he turns some of the most unlikeable and horrible dialogue into a truly engaging film-watching experience. Creatively, Nightcrawler is also very watchable due to its atmospheric direction and cinematography. The way that this film handles light is beautiful to watch. Because most of the scenes are set at night, the film makes use of the types of light available during this time – torches, streetlamps, car lights, police lights, the outdoor lights of a house. Partner that with smoke rising from the ground and the smog of Los Angeles, and you have a noir-esque and creepy visual masterpiece.
I loved Nightcrawler so much and I think this is another incidence where I’ll be complaining about its snub for a long time. Jake Gyllenhaal defies expectation and crafts such a truly unlikeable yet totally engaging character, which makes this film unforgettable. There are some moments where I still feel slightly creeped out when just thinking about them, and the experience of seeing this at the cinema was totally worth it. The visuals plus the stellar sound design plus the amazing performances equals one absolutely worthy film that needs to be seen at the cinema.
Is it worth paying for a ticket?: Definitely.
Watch the trailer here.
I’m with you on Gyllenhaal. For me he really went to a new level in this movie. I’ve never been a huge fan of his but he won me over in Nightcrawler.
He was really amazing!
Are you going to see this one soulie? It’s awesome!
Gyllenhaal was terrific here and it’s such a shame that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination. The guy was totally deserving of it. Good review.
Thanks heaps Dan! It is a huge shame. I think the only way I would feel less aggravated about it is if JK Simmons wins!
He’s snubbed by the Oscars, but got all the major precursor nominations there are. Although I was still angry for him, for about 3 days. The anger was baffling. It may be due to the honesty in his performance: it got under my skin. The callous exploitation under his kind facade for every desperate job seeker that goes in the wolf’s den as willing lamb for slaughter. His off-putting persistence after a woman’s consent: it’s everything in the daily reality of half of the world — that impossibly tangled conundrum of being on the end of endless, unshakable assault obvious or micro-aggressive. Then in all his twisted behavior, he alone sees a shining dream of career ascent based on hack notion of artistic achievement…again a familiar reality. Then add lots and lots of grimy, dark humor. He even hit the ground scurrying around, like a cockroach version of ground troopers!
You’re totally right about the honesty in Gyllenhaal’s performance – any lesser actor would play it cartoonish but he has just the right amount of drama to pull it off. His treatment of Rene Russo’s character was so slimey and reprehensible that it was almost unbelievable. Such a cockroach!
It seems to be one of those films being talked about at the minute almost solely because Gyllenhaal was overlooked for an Oscar. However, I think you do a good job in your review of explaining that actually, it’s a damn fine movie aside from *just* the performance of its lead actor.
Thanks so much Owen! Aside from the obvious snub there’s so much value to be found in this film.
Howdy Anna, glad you got around to seeing this film. Nightcrawler was one of the best experiences I had in the cinema. When I saw the trailers I wasn’t sure what to expect, however I decided to watch it just to see what the deal was. And Nightcrawler was just incredible, it told an incredible story which showed the more shady and unethical side of video news and some of it is so shocking and beyond belief, but my god is it entertaining. And Gyllenhaal, what a don. That was was his best performance to date and when he acted, I saw Lou bloom and not Gyllenhaal, and that is a mighty impressive thing to do.
Gyllenhaal is a total don! You’re so right, he turned into a completely different person which was both scary and totally impressive. Definitely one of my favourites of his performances.
Nightcrawler was one of my absolute favourites of the year and Gyllenhaal’s performance my clear favourite. I’m shocked by the snub.
I’m shocked too, it’s a pretty shameless snub! So many great performances this year though.
Loved every minute of this movie. Like you said, I’m completely shocked that Gyllenhaal didn’t get a nod.
I loved every minute as well, there never seemed to be a lull period. It was such an amazing film, shame about the huge snub!
I agree with this so much I’m tempted to stand on the table and raise a banner. Incredible film. So original and thought provoking.
Absolutely. I’ll stand up on the table with you!
Put my review up. Still so frustrated the Academy largely ignored it.
Everything you said about Gyllenhaal’s performance is painfully true — I can’t believe he was snubbed. I hated his character so much — yet I almost yelled at the girls who walked out before the end, because how could they stop watching him? I really loved the two characters you brought out here, too, because of the same reasons. Horrible endings to both, I was completely crushed.
A fantastic review, and lol at you making it short so everyone could go see it right away. Completely right. It’s incredible.
Thanks heaps Elina! 🙂 Wow, people walked out of this? I suppose some people have really low tolerance for uncomfortableness and anti-heroes, but that’s pretty bad! The only movies I’ve seen people walk out of have been Moulin Rouge (way back in the day), The Wolf of Wall Street, and an indie Australian film called Hail (which was amazing). It strikes me as such a wasteful thing to do!
The genius of nightcrawler is the script. The writer created a mirror of what society has become and focused it onto one mans struggle to achieve success in his professional life (ensuring his survival). It is a genius script and as you have mentioned, a very good film to watch. The vulgarity of rene and Jakes symbiotic relationship painted a thousand pictures.
[…] The cinematography by Robert Elswit was another highlight. Elswit was the cinematographer for Nightcrawler (2014) and the two feel similar somehow, with a lot of energy buzzing in each […]
Beautiful review 🙂 I gave it a super high score myself. I think it’s a nice modern spin on Taxi Driver, and I just love how Lou can be like anyone of us. That’s what makes Nightcrawler so powerful, from being amoral to immoral and not even noticing the change. IMO, Jake so deserved best actor last year!!!