A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The media is not a business without blood on it’s hands. In fact, it is one of the most vile industries in the world. Without it, we wouldn’t have breaking news, global news and of course, the gossip we so desperately crave to be passively force fed on a daily basis.
Media depiction in film is often negative, even when the narrative takes place on their side of the fence, or story for that matter.
“Nightcrawler”, the ultra-impressive debut feature from Dan Gilroy (an accomplished screenwriter), is a prime example of everything and everyone wrong with the business today, and boy does it pack a punch!
Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a determined, passionate and relentless young man who is seeking employment (and also sports one darn fine man bun). Addressing a common trend in today’s society, Bloom finds himself being knocked back on a regular basis. His spirit and desire however are not crumbled, rather, ignited as a result.
Following a fascinating incident involving a roadside crash, Bloom sees an opening for a potential self-employed career path. Pawning some valuable stolen possessions in exchange for a video camera and a police scanner, Bloom undertakes a role as a crime scene cameraman/journalist and doesn’t look back as he stubbornly and unscrupulously enters himself into the deep dark world of the media, becoming very good at his job…to good.
Straight off, it must be said that Gyllenhaal is OSCAR-worthy for his embodiment of Lou Bloom. This is a character that is so incredibly despicable, calculated and twisted, you simply can’t believe there are some people out there with similar careers and characteristics.
The face of journalism is represented on Bloom’s face for the entirety of the film. Might I add that Bloom’s face is eerily expressionless and chilling…
Gyllenhaal may have given his best performance to-date, and that is not overselling it. He was fantastic in “Donnie Darko”, remarkable in “Brokeback Mountain”, amazing in “Enemy” and mesmerising in “Prisoners”. However, “Nightcrawler” demonstrates the endless talents of this man in all their never before seen glory. He is by far one the top 5 actors in the business today, and one of my personal favourites.
It was a bold choice to include a line such as “I take framing very seriously”, or something along those lines. It fit Bloom’s needy, ambitious and perfectionist nature, however from that moment on, I was personally keeping an eye out for underwhelming or sub-par framing from the cinematographer.
Thankfully, there were no offences, in fact, the film is masterfully shot and edited. The budget was scraped from the bottom of a Micheal Bay budget barrel and then divided in half, but what Gilroy was able to achieve for a merely $8million, could be mistaken for $20million.
Like a beast lurking in the shadows and pouncing at every opportunity, beating the pack to the prey they are so desperately after, Lou Bloom is animalistic in his actions and lack of morality. The expert framing and toning of the nighttime Californian shadows drives that characteristic home to perfection.
This is one of the best films of the year without a doubt. It’s clever, it’s dark, it’s cynical, it’s funny and everything in between. It does however have one major flaw that truly detached from the highly impressive ride that I personally was on for the majority of the film.
That flaw is the ending. Abrupt, frustrating and unfulfilled, the climax to “Nightcrawler” left me in a huff. I needed 15-20 minutes more to explore what happened next and to see certain elements explored and possibly resolved. It’s one thing to leave a film open ended, but not in the case of “Nightcrawler” .
It was hinting at a perfect score for the first and second acts, but after a disappointing finale, sadly the film fell short, and what’s worse is that it can’t really be excused; it’s under 2 hours in length, therefore, it wouldn’t feel dragged out if there were 20 more minutes added on.
That is not to say however, that the climactic events weren’t incredibly gripping; there were some nail-biting moments in there for sure. But ultimately, that’s what made the sudden ending that much worse, it was such a contrast in events.
With a sensational lead that has subtle inspirations from “Taxi Driver’s” Travis Bickle and even “American Psycho’s” Patrick Bateman, Lou Bloom, particularly though the career-best performance from Gyllenhaal, is one of 2014’s best characters in one of the year’s best pictures.
An incredible achievement in filmmaking that sends an enormous message regarding the dirty, grimy world of the media, Nightcrawler” is a must-see!
On a side not, it would have been interesting to see the inclusion of the “Breaking the Fourth Wall” shots from the trailers. I believe it would have given the film an entirely new perspective and outlook on the characters.
Who knows, maybe an extended cut will be available later on…