Nightcrawler – a chilling look at the voyeur. 

A city in the dead of night is a place that is almost surreal. Bright, garish, neon lights. Empty highways. The occasional plane that flies overhead.

It’s during the night when scrap metal thief Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) practices his trade. His ambitions are higher though. He tries to convince the man he sells the scrap to, to give him a job. But the man says he won’t employ a thief.

One his way home, he sees a car accident on the side of the highway. Curious, he stops, gets out and watches as a camera crew shove their way in, trying to get close up shots of the tragedy. “If it bleeds it leads,” one of the cameramen tells him.

Ever the opportunist, Lou pawns a stolen bike for a basic camcorder and police scanner, and he becomes an amateur nightcrawler, spending hours in his car, hoping for a bloody crime or accident to rush to, video, and sell to TV news agencies.

His footage catches the eye of cut-throat television news executive, Nina Romina (Rene Russo), and he becomes a stringer for the station.

Lou hires an intern to help him navigate and find the fastest route to crimes scenes. It is a race to be the first on the scene for the exclusive footage of twisted metal, bullet casings, blood, guts, tragedy.

Nightcrawler exposes the ugly underbelly of crime journalism and TV news; the scopophilia of looking through a lens. Good camera work, Lou tells Nina, dissolves “the barrier between subject and frame.” The viewer is drawn into Lou’s world of detached watching.

The film has a surreal feeling to it; the twilight hours are dreamlike, yet hyperreal. “It always looks real on TV,” Lou remarks when he sees the fake city backdrop behind the news desk.

Nightcrawler is a tense thriller about the construct of TV news – the representation of something manufactured. Lou himself is a construct. He’s socially awkward but spews out quotes he finds on the Internet, trying to appear knowledgable: “If you wanna win the lottery you have to make enough money to buy a ticket.”

Jake Gyllenhaal embodies this character. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, but missed out at the Oscars. Gyllenhaal immerses himself in the character. He lost a significant amount of weight to depict Lou’s gawkiness. Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of the power play between Nina and Lou, and the latter’s descent into a sadistic and murderous game, are both frightening and fascinating.

Rating: 4/5
Director and writer: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton

Local release date: 6 March 2015

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One thought on “Nightcrawler – a chilling look at the voyeur. 

  1. Pingback: My best films of 2015. | Rant and Rave Reviews

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