The best place to hide is behind a camera.
Going in I was new to Dan Gilroy the writer/director of Nightcrawler, but I wasn’t new to Jake Gyllenhaal having enjoyed his performances in such gems as Donnie Darko and Prisoners. The film is centered around Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a small time street hustler seeming to (at first) only to be concerned with a small come up. That is until he’s barreling down the freeway at an ungodly hour, and sees a car accident. Something inside him almost forces him to pull over, and satisfy his curiosity itch with a risky scratch. Two noble citizens are helping the victim out, and before you can yell 911, a couple of freelance cameramen show up the film the accident. The film is dark and almost gothic, but definitely has its elements of comedy, and Gyllenhaal does’t hold back this could possibly be one of the best performances of his career. The pacing seems right and Gyllenhaal definitely sells the “obsessed madman” look that I’m Gilroy was going for. Lou hustles himself straight to a camera and police scanner, and starts nightcrawling himself. The craft seems to have a bit of a learning curve as Lou finds himself filming less than desired crimes at first. One of the things I found intriguing about this movie was unknown. Until the end there was no point in the movie where I knew for sure what was going to happen next, I think a little ambiguity goes a long way.
After making a few sales to a local new station, Lou later recruits some help. He hires a young man named Rick (Riz Ahmed) who’s nearly homeless and desperate for money, the two hit the streets and start filming. Lou is far from a people person, he has his goals in mind and doesn’t care who he blackmails or hurts to get them accomplished. One scene that stuck with me in particular was the restaurant scene with Lou and fellow business partner Nina (Rene Russo). Lou almost strong-arms his way to a date, and even proceeds to threaten to take his “crucial” footage elsewhere if she doesn’t sleep with him. It’s clear Lou is a man obsessed, taking to extreme measures to eliminate the competition with sheer mafia tactics. The heat gets turned up when he beats the police to a home invasion/triple homicide. He breaks the law and drags his loyal but naïve partner into shady territory, when he withholds information from the police. I’ll admit that it was rather entertaining to watch Lou’s obsession grow, and his sanity slip. Lou Bloom is not a likable character, he’s manipulative, narcissistic, and very intelligent, he will stop at almost nothing to get the forage he desires; and while he was doing his dirty work, I could not look away. The intensity of this film was borderline unbearable, and the final act had an incredible build up.
With that being said, I suppose my only gripe with the film IS the final act. For the last 20 minutes or so I was sitting back giving the screen 100% of my attention, while the suspense rose and rose. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the big finish, the jaw dropper, the spectacular ending, and when it was all said and done that’s what I got, and ending. Even with a so-so ending, at the end of the day and at the end of the film, Lou showed us that sometimes crime does pay.