Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the kind of person we sit next to on the train, walk past on the street, and possibly cross paths with at our job. Bloom is the kind of person who fades from our existence as we carry on with our day. But he’s the kind of hidden monster that lives in anonymity in the world and preys on the weak. “Nightcrawler“, an Open Road Films productions, is a two-hour study on said person and turns out to be a modern-day classic.
“Nightcrawler” follows a moment in Lou Bloom’s life. Preferably Louis, not Lou, is a young man who is jobless and literally scavenging for a means to make money. As he walks from one pay-day and a declined job opportunity, Bloom drives past a grisly car accident on the highway. Stopping to view the scene with a child like sense of curiosity, he meets veteran cameraman, journalist, freelancer, nightcrawler Joe Loder (Bill Paxton). Asking Loder “will this be shown on the news?” he is informed that it will, and “if it bleeds, it leads.” Grasping onto the idea of possibly making money (and a living) off of accidents, murders, and other sorts of urban carnage, Bloom gets a camera and a police scanner and begins his journey into the dark, fast paced, seedy, and often amoral world of crime journalism.
The film, written and directed by Dan Gilroy, brother of Tony Gilroy (Bourne series, Michael Clayton) expertly crafts a film that takes a page out of Michael Mann’s playbook. He thrusts us into a story as much about the city of Los Angeles, as it is about Bloom. Shot by Oscar Winner, Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton), the film is very reminiscent of modern classics such as Collateral and Heat. It is also beautifully done in a way that exemplifies the idea of poetry on film. It’s quite an amazing film, if people had the same respect for films like they did during the 70’s, this would be lauded as one of the great American masterpieces. “Nightcrawler” brings to life a city filled with real people and of life that moves as fast as the cars on the 101. It deserves to be a modern-day classic just for the way it was filmed alone. As far as the acting, performances this year don’t get any better than Jake Gyllenhaal’s turn as nightcrawler, Lou Bloom. He brings to life a character from the pages of the Dan Gilroy’s sharply written, often creepy, and surprisingly satirical script. In doing so, Gyllenhaal gives us a cinematic figure that could easily go head to head with De Niro’s Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver.” He is that good. As Bloom, he is fully committed to the role of the nocturnal, almost coyote like animal that his character could be described as. Losing 30 pounds for the role, based off of his own actor’s intuition after reading the script, Gyllenhaal has said “When I believe in a character, I’ll go there. The feeling I wanted was the hunger. I wanted that irritability. I wanted that feeling that you’re pushing yourself.” (USA Today Oct 27, 2014)
The City Shines Brightest At Night is the tagline for “Nightcrawler.” The fact is, this movie shines bright! It is a great example of how good a film can be when mixed with all the right elements. Be it from the captivating way it was shot by Robert Elswit, the sociopathic nuance of Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance, to the James Newton Howard score which is a symphony of sound that will stick with you long after (check it out at soundtrack.net), “Nightcrawler” is damn fine film-making! To quote Roger Ebert’s words on Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle specifically, “we almost want to look away from his life. But he’s there, all right, and he’s suffering.” (Roger Ebert Jan 1, 1976 posted on rogerebert.com) Lou Bloom is there, all right, he’s suffering, YET he’s thriving! Only the good die young.
“Nightcrawler”, an Open Road Films production, gets four stars. “Nightcrawler” opens everywhere this Friday, October 31st. Check listings for a theater near you.