Friday, January 30, 2015

Nightcrawler (2014)

Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer:    Dan Gilroy
Cast:       Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton

When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his  own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Going by the name of the film and the trailer which I watched a long time back, I really thought it was gonna be a serial killer film. The term nightcrawler in film refers to freelance journalists who scan police radio messages to pick up interesting crime scenes that they can reach and film in order to sell it to the highest bidding TV channel. So they are like ambulance chasers. Lou is getting by doing some thieving when he stumbles on to a nightcrawler at the scene of a car accident and feels like it is a job that could accentuate his strengths and hide his weaknesses. Bit like Travis Bickle taking up the job of a Taxi Driver. He footage becomes a hit with a particular TV station aided by his ruthlessness and not being restricted by a notion of journalistic ethics. At the same time he is extremely adept at giving out MBA jargons due to him doing a lot of online courses during his free time. The TV news producer Nina wittingly and unwittingly eggs him on to ramp it up more and more and in essence she is not much different from him. It can also be seen as a metaphor for the psychopathic behavior that capitalistic corporations tend to engage in being managed by people like Lou. Most of the managers are like that based on my experience though I have to admit none of them are as efficient as Lou. 

Film is laugh out loud funny especially when Lou gets into one of his many monologues. I have seen some people saying that film didn't go far enough but I think they were misled by the trailer which had that mirror scene. in which apparently he got so much into the character that he smashed it for real and required several stitches. They might not have  expected it to be black comedy. It is very much like an unfussy 'American Psycho' and another film that I was reminded of was Scorsese's 'King of Comedy'. The best thing about Nightcrawler is that we know he is a psychopath but he doesn't do anything directly that can be nailed down as a psychopathic crime. The creepiest thing is that you would actually root for him and don't mind the frustration that the detective played by Micheal Hyatt (Brianna Barksdale from The Wire) feels.

It is a very assured directorial debut for Dan Gilroy. Jake Gyllenhaal is now in two films that would get into my top ten from 2014, with the other one being 'Enemy'. It seems he really likes being in films that deal with psychopaths (Zodiac, Prisoners). Nightcrawler has got an academic award nomination for Best Screenplay and it is a crime that its lead didn't get nominated for best actor category. I haven't seen 'Imitation Game' or 'Theory of Everything' but I really doubt the performances in those would be better than this.

Rating: 5/5