The Sommer Series: A Review of “Nightcrawler”

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Neliana Ferraro

Photo courtesy of Bold Films

Written by Sommer Rusinski

Who doesn’t love Jake Gyllenhaal? I’m serious. Show me one person who doesn’t love Jake Gyllenhaal and I’ll show you a liar.

Nightcrawler is the story of Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal); a psychotic man who’s desperate to get to the top…of any job. Sure he’s a thief and a liar, but he’s driven and more than willing to start at the bottom to make it big. And he makes sure he tells everyone how passionate he is. He sounds like a Tony Robbins audiobook. After witnessing a news crew film a horrific car accident, Bloom decides to buy a camera and become a freelance videographer for local breaking news. Sounds admirable, right? Wrong. Bloom is so wretched and wild; he will do anything to be the first at the scene of the crime. He will hurt people, he will betray people, and he will win.

Jake Gyllenhaal was the perfect actor to play this part. Like Bloom, Gyllenhaal was dedicated. He lost 20 pounds for the role and the effect was awesome. He’s gaunt and greasy, with bulging, unblinking eyes. He looks hungry. He looks like a coyote, stalking the streets of nocturnal Los Angeles for blood and chaos. Bloom is an animal who studies and understands his prey. He’s so unempathetic and aggressive; he takes things too far…and then goes farther. The audience I was with was actually vocal about their hatred for him, but even in their gasps and shouts there was a hint of admiration. Bloom is psychotic, but he’s a hell of a businessman and he’s damn good at what he does. He’s a little bit Travis Bickle, a little bit Lester Burnham, and a whole lot of dangerous.

Photo courtesy of Bold Films
Photo courtesy of Bold Films

The cinematography is beautiful in this film. Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood) is responsible. It’s gritty and crisp, showing nighttime LA in all its neon glory. Aesthetically, it actually looks a lot like Drive. In fact, both Ryan Gosling and Gyllenhaal play men who are unflinching criminals, and dark, fluorescent-tinted Los Angeles is the perfect backdrop.

People are already talking about the Oscar race, and while I agree Gyllenhaal deserves a nomination for this, I’m not sure this is the year for him. There were so many standouts this year, and with Eddie Redmayne playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, I don’t think anyone else has a chance.

The saddest part about this movie is that it’s true. There really are nightcrawlers out there who drive the streets, praying for crime and death to make money off of other people’s sorrow. And not only do they need to get the footage, it needs to be the best. Gyllenhaal touches on this nicely in the movie. They almost take a filmmaker’s approach; focusing on framing and camera tricks. It’s become an art form.

The news has become murder porn and the fact that we’re unfazed by the blood and gore shown in Nightcrawler is proof of how overexposed it has become. Audiences didn’t have a problem with people dying, they had a problem with the man profiting from it. This film is a horrible truth we just don’t want to think about. And we love every second of it.