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A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Dan Gilroy
Written by: Dan Gilroy
Produced by: Bold Films
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton.
NIGHTCRAWLER is a slick, disturbing analysis of a sociopath; as well as an often very funny satire of a sensationalist media. This is director Dan Gilroy’s first time behind the camera, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from how absolutely gorgeous NIGHTCRAWLER looks. Los Angeles looks sleek and unnerving, with the shots at night worthy of a great noir.
Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is living aimlessly, stealing scrap metal and pawning it off. One day he walks onto a crime scene, and is convinced by Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), a freelance stringer who records footage to sell to News stations, to become a freelancer himself. He does so, and finds himself to be quite successful, establishing a business relationship with Nina (Rene Russo).
As Lou works more, things get crazier. Eventually he records a murder in progress with his partner, Rick (Riz Ahmed). Nina and her news station jumps on this, despite it being rather ethically dubious. The chase scene that concludes NIGHTCRAWLER is the best of the year, and one of the most unique that I’ve seen in a long time.
Gyllenhaal has never been better. What he manages here is the ability to emote while still sounding emotionless. His Lou is a blank slate, adopting a personality, because this is what society tells him will seem normal. Lou is not so much a flesh-and-blood person as he is a caricature, a parody, a representation of everything that is wrong with the media now. The sensationalism, the obsession with violence, and the focus of making people worry.
Rene Russo is also strong, with her carrying the blunt of the film’s satire. She has a certain look of desperation about her, and the way she is excited by the violence that Lou brings to her is equally provocative and hilarious. I haven’t seen her in a long time, and for her to show up here and deliver such a good performance is a nice surprise.
Newcomer Riz Ahmed also plays an important role in the plot of NIGHTCRAWLER. He eventually moves up to a point where he plays the role of Lou’s conscience. He offers a sense of limpness to this character, with a comic timing that’s worth taking notice of. With luck, he’ll get the work he deserves.
To disclose Lou’s behavior would be to spoil the film. I haven’t seen a character this bereft of emotion, nor have I seen a movie sociopath behave in this specific a way. It’s easy to dismiss Lou as an eccentric; but that’s a mask. Gyllenhaal has had a strong career as of late, with films like END OF WATCH and PRISONERS under his belt. I gave both of those pictures 3 and a half stars, for NIGHTCRAWLER I will finally bite the bullet and award four.
Suggestion: See it