A pair of pliers in the midst of an abandoned junk yard – that is where we first meet Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a socially awkward man desperate to earn a living any way he can, even if he has to commit reckless vandalism to pay the bills. We realize upon his first encounter, that he is learned. He is factual. He is reliable. He is conniving and ever so persistent. After an untimely rejection for employment, he quickly proceeds to his next opportunity: the scene of a car accident. Intrigued by the commotion, he pulls over to investigate the incident and thus begins his ravenous quest for fulfillment. During the next 108 minutes, we watch as Bloom operates a camera to navigate, and adapt, to the confines of late night news television.
The brilliance of Gyllenhaal’s portrayal lays purely on Bloom’s ability to mask his sociopathic tendencies through his persistence to please and impress those who he feels are worthy of such admiration.
Gyllenhaal easily captivates the audience through his verbal fluidity and talent to dance along the lines of perversion without completely giving it all away.
He prances throughout the film with hollowed eyes that speaks greater volumes than his mouth ever does. He is constantly challenging the individuals around him with facts he’s learned from the internet and knowledge he’s gained from those who have rejected and belittled him. Nevertheless, the more praise he receives for his footage, from Producer Nina (Rene Russo), the greater his appetite grows for the grotesque. Each stakeout becomes more horrendous than the last and he will stop at nothing until he has abolished whatever moral compass the viewer has left.
Visually, the film is stunning; shot mostly during the night as Bloom scours the city for the latest suburban catastrophe. The city lights transform into a mesmerizing blur as he speeds down the streets in an effort to beat the ambulances and cop cars that race against him but, as riveting as the cinematography may be, the score is even more enticing. Electric guitars, soft pianos, and rhythmic drums enhance and emulate Bloom’s character to great effect. The gong that beats every so often reminds us that we are in Bloom’s world, trapped inside the frame of his lens, whether we like it or not.
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler exemplifies Bloom’s reality, as well as our own. Gilroy denotes Bloom’s thirst for violence by fulfilling the audiences’ resounding thirst for violence each time that Bloom re-enters the editing suite. We are aware that what he is about to show Nina is extremely graphic, invasive and probably inappropriate for daytime television yet, Bloom always seems to get his way. As a result, Gilroy fantastically portrays Bloom’s indiscretion and the consequences for those around him who ignore it. Nightcrawler is a magnificent film; one that will resonate in your mind long after you have departed the theater.