Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the titular Nightcrawler, Louis Bloom, a desperate man who blags his way into the world of TV crime scene journalism. Armed only with a cheap camera, a second-hand police scanner and a total disregard for the welfare of others, he begins working as a freelance ambulance-chaser, selling his videos of crime scenes and accidents to a local TV news channel.
Lou has no scruples whatsoever. He’ll do anything necessary to achieve success in his newly chosen field, he attempts to be charming but simply comes off as scary. He’s intense and creepy, not to mention horribly deluded. His many motivational monologues (he hires a minion to assist in his grotesque endeavours) illustrate his delusions of grandeur which at times, are actually pretty hilarious. He sounds like an Apprentice candidate or one of The Dragons.
The plot is pretty simple, which isn’t a problem in itself, although there comes a point when you feel like you’ve seen one crime scene too many. It just starts to feel a little repetitive: visit crime scene, record footage, sell to TV station, repeat.
Lou is certainly an interesting character, and while we don’t learn much about his back story (or anything, in fact), there’s enough going on in Gyllenhaal’s performance to keep you interested. And that’s just as well because we learn precisely bugger all about any of the other characters, most of whom don’t have that much to do. This is Gyllenhaal’s show.
Nightcrawler is a decent, well made film but it’s also about 30 minutes too long, with patchy pacing, and a lack of direction. About half way through I began to wonder where they were going with it, and I’m not really convinced they knew, either. It’s lucky then that the lead is someone as consistently good as Jake Gyllenhaal, because he elevates it above where it deserves to be. Ah, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. I mean, it isn’t that Nightcrawler is a bad film, I just didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I wanted to.
To go back to Gyllenhaal for a minute, though… wow, he’s good! Really good. Not only does he give a top-draw performance but he also dropped 30 lbs for the role, which while not absolutely necessary, adds to the haunted, hyper and unhinged character he plays.
It’s probably a “better” film than a 6.5 but I didn’t enjoy or like it more than that. Sorry Jake, you were excellent, though!
I loved this film. I thought it was really clever not to give Lou a back story. It doesn’t matter why he is the way he is. It’s all about the now.
I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it, either. It is an unusual and brave film, and I really wanted to love it…but…ok, it’s like if you go on a date with a really hot guy, and you’ve got loads in common, but you just don’t click? Well, that.
I’m glad you liked it though, I’m kind of jealous.
Haha you’re so right about him talking like an Apprentice candidate!
Once I noticed that I couldn’t un-notice it. So annoying!
Nice post! I don’t have any desire to see this at all. Shit on it!
Thanks, Eric! I’m actually kind of gutted that I didn’t love it, because I really wanted to. I thought it looked great from the trailer and it is an original and stylish film, but pfff…
Loved this movie! Thought it was the perfect balance between black comedy and psychological thriller! Thought it was brave of the writer/director to go in blind and give us no backstory for him (or anyone else) but I actually think it worked, made him seem even more unstable! Great blog!
A few buddies of mine felt the same as you. My girlfriend didn’t like it at all. I’m kind of in the middle.
If it wasn’t for Jake in the lead role, I’d totally agree. However, he makes it great for me. I also liked seeing the bad guy…well, you know. No spoilers.
Nice review, Laura! I haven’t seen this one yet, but the common consensus is that it’s AMAZING. And yours is the second review that has pointed out a few of the flaws (and they’re the same ones the other critic pointed out too). So I’m definitely curious to see this, but I’m wondering if it’s worthy of all the rave it’s been given!
Thanks Kristin! That’s really interesting. I can see it’s a good film and I get why people like it but it left me somewhat cold. I’ll be interested to see what you think when you get to see it.
Sure is a trend for actors wishing to be taken seriously to “drop” at least thirty pounds for a role. God, I hope he eats something now. Electric performance and now I think of Jake the same way as Bale and Phoenix.
Yeah, that’s true. “Oh how I suffer for my art!” etc. Your comment reminded me of this scene from Extras…
Nice review Laura – I know we already discussed this on mine & agreed on it (although I maybe enjoyed it slightly more than you). Gyllenhaal was indeed good – I just really wanted the film itself to be much better than it was.
Hey Abbi! Your review echoed the one I just wrote which is a film I appreciate, esp the acting, but I just don’t love. I was more generous on the rating, but now that I think about it, perhaps I was being too generous, ahah. I’m still curious to check out Jake’s performance here though.
Ooops sorry you’re not Abbi, I was just visiting her blog so she was on my mind, ahah. Sorry about that!