Nightcrawler is a gripping but ultimately hollow dark satire with caricatures prowling in the night to remind us of modern society’s twisted fascination with shock entertainment.
Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a driven young man desperate for work, discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling — where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Nina (Rene Russo), a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. [Open Road]
Nightcrawler is an effective media satire that also reflects our baser instincts. The media can milk shock value for what its worth in ratings because there’s a part of us that can’t look away from gruesome tragedies.
Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a great performance as he embodies an unapologetic asshole that could serve as a stand-in for greedy Wall Street yuppies.
Pretty much like the grotesque videos he turns in that would become media coverage for news, you can’t help but look at how he can sink lower.
The film is sharp and precise as the cinematography, direction and plot is devoid of any flourishes. Nightcrawler could have easily become some director’s self-indulgent artsy fartsy anti-hero film but fortunately, the makers just let the screenplay speak for itself.
On the other hand, the film doesn’t really have anything else to say and thematically remains flat.
The cast do their best, but the characters remain as one note caricatures. Lou Bloom is an unrelatable creep who prefers to use corporate-speak and blurts out platitudes in every conversation, while the rest barely have any characterization. They’re all putty in Bloom’s hand, either victimized or led astray.
The film does its best to be authentic and show the ugly side of the media. But considering Bloom’s ambition, it makes you wonder why he didn’t just do it himself with a website of his own?
This approach would have have been a more timely reflection of media in the digital age. User-generated content often trumps traditional channels, to the point that Obama met with You Tube users in an attempt to appeal to the younger demographic. Yuppies now make money from virtual real estate rather than a physical one.
In spite of this Nightcrawler is still a well executed satire and shows no matter how advanced technology is, human nature is pretty much the same. Instead of circus freak shows we have the reality TV programming. Instead of the graphic local gazette we have pixelated news coverage.
My Rating: 7/10
Alternative Movie Poster by Raj Khatri