Looking for a movie to see this weekend? Check out our review of Nightcrawler to see if that is one you want to see.
In Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal gives an outstanding performance as the psychopath Louis Bloom. The film is set in Los Angeles and takes place almost entirely at night.
At the beginning of the film Lou is out of work and stealing scrap metal for money. While driving late one night he comes upon Joe (Bill Paxton) a cameraman filming a car accident. He is what they call a nightcrawler, someone who films car accidents, etc. and then sells the footage to the highest bidder local TV station to run on their 6:00 am news the next morning. Lou decides that is something that he would like to do as well. So he steals a bike and sells it to buy a video camera.
When Lou gets his first footage, he takes it to Nina (Rene Russo), the news director at the television station currently last in the news ratings. She is looking for graphic footage for the 6:00 am news each morning to boost the station’s ratings and keep her job. Lou’s footage is rough, but she tells him he has potential and to bring her more footage.
Lou needs a partner so he hires the out of work and recently homeless Rick (Riz Ahmed) to assist him. Each night the two sit in Lou’s car, listening to the police radio for car accidents, fires and homicides, and then racing through the streets of L.A. to be the first on the scene to record the tragedies. The more graphic footage Lou can bring to Nina the better – for both of them. Soon, Nina begins needing what Lou is providing more than Lou needs her. Lou realizes that and uses it to begin manipulating her and making demands that she feels she has to go along with.
Lou perceives himself as the leader of a growing business (he says he has taken an online business course), and continually criticizes and talks down to Rick, who puts up with the abuse because he needs the money. Lou cares about nothing but getting to the next big story first and getting the film to Nina. He’s willing to bend the rules to get his footage.
Joe sees Lou as his competition, so he attempts to hire him, but Lou has no interest in that. He wants to be the best and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. His ego is out of control.
The film is a disturbing look at television news – those who provide and purchase the graphic footage – and those of us who watch it. I have not seen Gyllenhaal in many films, but was very impressed by his performance as the psychopath Lou.
The film is rated “R” for violence, graphic images and a large amount of adult language, including the abuse of God’s and Jesus’ names several times. This is a dark film without any spiritual content, and one of those films in which there are not any characters that you particularly like, though Riz is portrayed as having a conscience at times, something Lou does not have. The film gets a high rating for the quality of the film and the strong acting performance by Gyllenhaal, not because it was particularly likeable.