Directed by Dan Gilroy
In the cut-throat world of news videography, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) will do whatever it takes to be on top. To him, tampering with an active crime scene in order to frame a shot is just a smart business move. “If it leads, it bleeds,” news producer Nina Romina (Rene Russo) tells him. The projected growth of his brand-new production company is up, up, up, because Bloom isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. It’s simply what needs to be done. But is he taking it too far when he asks his assistant (Riz Ahmed) to help him withhold evidence when they arrive at an active crime scene even before the cops?
In most crime thrillers, you can find at least a few little plot discrepancies to prod at laughingly. I said most. “Nightcrawler” is one of these exceptions, so carefully written (by Dan Gilroy, who also directed) and brilliantly shot (by Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit) that any loose ends seem to be completely tied up. Lou Bloom is a walking proverb, spitting high-lexile idioms that might as well have been in Poor Richard’s Almanac. All of Bloom’s backhanded, subtle insults are written with grace by Gilroy, who – before “Nightcrawler” – only had screenwriting credits on two other, less popular, films. But he breathes life into his hard-boiled urban sprawl of L.A.
But it was Jake Gyllenhaal who brings this twisted, haunting, seriously effed-up character to life. The gaunt, wide-eyed Gyllenhaal lost 30 pounds for the role, but it’s unsure if he was asked to. Method acting at its finest. Gyllenhaal made a name for himself playing psychotic antiheroes in last year’s “Prisoners” and “Enemy,” but in “Nightcrawler” he’s a next-level creep. He deserves award consideration for the way he steals the show. He gives his best “batshit” and completely sells it. But he doesn’t have to do it alone. As Bloom’s business partner, Riz Ahmed is wonderfully aloof. Unfortunately, Bill Paxton’s reputation precedes him. It makes his role as a competing videographer, a middle-aged man that refers to Bloom as “bro” a lot, hard to buy. And Rene Russo’s slimy Nina seems like a familiar character – an assemblage of several straight-shooting fictional newswomen – but Russo does it well.
For Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler” may be that winning lottery ticket he’s been working toward. Thankfully, he’s sharing the winnings with all of us. Go claim your prize.
“Nightcrawler” is in theaters.