Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut follows the exploits of the eponymous nightcrawler Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a driven young businessman who discovers the thrilling job of nightcrawling in nocturnal Los Angeles. Scowering the darkened streets and hacking into police radio systems with his recently acquired assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed), Nightcrawler explores the somewhat disgusting but ever so interesting voyeuristic nature of the human race.
Co-writer of the Bourne trilogy, Nightcrawler was Dan Gilroy’s first time taking a seat in the director chair and despite the film being branded a thriller, it’s easy to see Gilroy pulling influence from his previous writing on action films, working brilliantly alongside the well written intensity which is particularly shown in the final scene of the film. With car chases and stand offs, the film does well to merge high octane action with thrills.
Gilroy also seems to question modern day journalism and its ethics in quite a satirical manner, what with Gyllenhaal’s terrifyingly driven Lou Bloom crossing more and more ethical lines in order to take the bloodiest and juiciest shots back to the TV station to hand over to Nina (Rene Russo), the morning news director. It leaves its audience questioning their own ethics, of those times they’ve stayed tuned into the news just to learn about gory murder, or the time they’ve slowed down on the motorway just to get a better look at the fatal car crash. Human voyeurism is a strange thing and Gilroy perfectly covers and satirises how the media, particularly news outlets, exploit it.
Jake Gyllenhaal dove straight into the role of Lou Bloom and drove the film wonderfully through its twisted turns, making this one of his best performances to date. He undertook a physical transformation and lost 20 pounds in preparation for the role because he wanted to look coyote-esque, to reinforce the hunter within in character, and his performance is very animalistic as Lou comes off as shark in its desperate hunt for blood. Gyllenhaal perfectly balances Lou on the thin line between genius and insanity the entire way through the film, leaving the audience questioning as to which side of the line he really does lie on. Also, he grasps the worryingly charismatic element of Lou with an underlying dark humour in which he’s funny but in a sickly sweet sort of way. The film also boasts a great supporting cast in the form of Riz Ahmed who plays Lou’s apprehensive assistant Rick, and Rene Russo as the cougar-like Nina.
A brilliant debut from Gilroy, setting him up for a great career in directing and cementing his status as a brilliant writer, Nightcrawler will leave you questioning the morals of the modern day media as well as some of your own.
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