RELEASED: 31st October 2014
DIRECTOR: Dan Gilroy
CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton, Ann Cusack, Kevin Rahm and Michael Hyatt
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $38.6m
AWARDS: None (Academy Award nomination, Golden Globe nomination and 4 BAFTA nominations)
In Nightcrawler we follow Louis ‘Lou’ Bloom, a man who one night has an epiphany watching a freelance camera crew on the scene of a car accident and decides that he wants to get into that line of work. He takes a while to get to a incident that he can sink his teeth into but once he arrives at a carjacking films a close-up of he victim and hands the footage to a news director called Nina who is interested in the blood and guts in ‘nice’ areas for the news. Lou obviously has a good eye for a shot, starts to get really good at his line of work as he progresses and then begins to effectively cross the moral line at crime scenes to get a good shot.
Released in 2014, Nightcrawler marked the directorial debut of veteran screenwriter Dan Gilroy. Set in Los Angeles, we follow Lou Bloom, a petty thief who one night witnesses a car accident being captured by a freelance photojournalist, looking to sell their footage to local news stations. Inspired by this event, Lou purchases a camcorder and police radio scanner, spending his time waiting for particular calls to come up on the scanner and record the incidents and try to sell them. When he sells his first recording to local news station KWLA 6, Lou hires an young, down on his luck Rick, as his assistant, and proceed to work within the industry of photojournalism, where his ambition begins to blur the lines between observation and participation in creating the narrative that involves himself. Nightcrawler was one of the best films that came out the year that it did and, for me personally, remains of the one most fascinating films of the decade. More similar to Rupert Pupkin than Travis Bickle, Lou Bloom is a sociopathic loner who just appears as an oodball, just striving to make ends meet and once he gets his foot into the world of television with his in-your-face style footage that makes him stand out from the rest of the freelancers that seems to appease KWLA 6 news director Nina Romina, primarily because the footage will cause a stir within the community, after all ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. What we see over the course of the film, and what Nina soon comes to learn as she initially senses a kindred spirit, is that Lou is deranged, deluded and the way that he manipulates people to do his bidding is both amazing and frightening to watch unfold on screen. This is highlighted in his arc with assistant Rick, a homeless man that he manipulates over the course of the film with an ‘internship’ position at his ‘company’. While he’s a loner, Lou is also very well articulate in how he spokes to people, like he’s selling a pyramid scheme, but he just can’t grasp human emotion like those around him. The film is pretty much satirical in its approach in how this person who appears likeable, if they work hard enough they can aspire to do great things, and delivers it in the shape of a bad individual. For me, this is Jake Gyllenhaal’s best performance to date as Lou Bloom, he’s completely transfixed in the role and the fact he didn’t earn an Academy Award nomination that year is still one of the most baffling award decisions last decade (not as bad as the Best Picture winner mixup in 2017. It’ll take a long time before that’s topped). Renee Russo gives a great performance as cut-throat news director Nina Romina, who encourages Lou to bring him footage that will shock viewers in order to boost the ratings at the network to help save her job. Bill Paxton also gives a good performance as Lou’s rival Joe Loder, and Riz Ahmed is terrific as Rick, the intern that’s stuck working for Lou that freaks out at Lou’s moral compass and his actions during the course of the film. The cinematography from Robert Elswit captures the night setting of Los Angeles beautifully, with James Newton Howard’s score perfectly complimenting Gilroy’s material here, especially with them guitar riffs.
FAVOURITE SCENE: For me, it’s the Mexican restaurant scene with Lou and Nina, in which Lou convinces Nina to have dinner with him and while some would suspect this must be Lou being a hopeless romantic, this is where Nina learns that she’s underestimated just who Lou really is as he blackmails his way into obtaining more financial power, as well as sex, telling her with a smile ‘I have to think you’re invested in this transaction’. From the way it’s shot, lit and the acting between Gyllenhaal and Russo, it’s my favourite scene in the film
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “That’s my job, that’s what I do, I’d like to think if you’re seeing me you’re having the worst day of your life.” – Lou Bloom
DID YOU KNOW: During the scene where Jake Gyllenhaal screams at himself in the mirror, Gyllenhaal got so into this improvised scene that the mirror broke, cutting his hand. He was driven to the hospital by the director after a nineteen hour day of working and got forty-six stitches in an four hour long operation, returning to the set six hours after being discharged. This was the reason why Gyllenhaal had his hand behind his back in the scene where he tells the scrapyard owner his motto.