Nightcrawler

Films that look at the modern state of the media are hardly rare in this day and age.  With the UK having gone through phone tapping and the US having just as many problems themselves, the media is rife for a kicking, but few films have done so in the stylish, dark and twisted way that Nightcrawler does.  It’s the directorial debut from Dan Gilroy, who also wrote the script, which suggests that he may well be a film maker to watch in the years to come.

Telling the story of Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a thief who spends his days trawling the internet absorbing information and appears desperate to find a job.  He eventually finds that job when he stumbles upon the world of amateur news recording, as he buys a video camera and a police scanner to spend his evening trawling the streets of Los Angeles filming violent, bloody and shocking crimes.  Bringing in an intern, in the form of Rick (Riz Ahmed), Bloom’s ability to pick up information quickly sees him rising to the top of the strange group of men who spend their evenings doing this.  However, it also sees him going further and further in his quest for the perfect footage.

First things first, Gyllenhaal is fantastic throughout this film.  Bloom switches from slimy and creepy, while at the same time overly friendly, to angry and scary at the blink of an eye and Gyllenhall seems to inhabit every part of his twisted mind.  The character has to stand up there as one of the most distasteful in cinema history and the longer you spend in his company the more you realise that this is a disturbed man, who leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  His interaction with the people around him suggests he has nothing but distaste for them all and his complete lack of empathy to the people he films is genuinely a bit scary.

It’s a central performance that deserves a brilliant film and in the case of Nightcrawler, it gets it.  It’s a stylish thriller that has you on the edge of your seat and insures you are never entirely sure where it is going.  The whole cast puts on a great performance, with Rene Russo excelling as Nina, the morning news station journey woman desperate to keep her job and willing to ignore all morals – and occasional laws – that may stand in her way.  Riz Ahmed meanwhile brings a human side to Bloom’s operation, as he reminds you that the people they are filming are human and not actors in a film that Bloom is putting together.

Nightcrawler is already being tipped for award seasons and it’s easy to see why.  Gilroy’s debut picture is dark and disturbing, but much like the recent Map to the Stars, never once stops being entertaining.  Whether it will get the recognition it deserves from the Academy is hard to say, much like Map to the Stars it has a darkness that doesn’t scream Academy bait, but if we are juding purely on merit, there is no denying that it has to be up there.

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