Nightcrawler (2014): When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.
Huh. How to describe what I just watched.....well, Nightcrawler is a truly spectacular thriller. Jake Gyllenhall is at his best, putting in arguably the best performance of his entire distinguished career as Lou Bloom, a slightly off-kilter cameraman who makes his living off of filming late night stories for the morning news. Nightcrawler is a character study of this man. As the movie progresses, Bloom's character is slowly unveiled and you begin to see the man he really is. Despite having very little backstory to his character if any, this character is phenomenally developed over the course of the movie's 117 minute runtime. Gyllenhall's performance is without a doubt on the same level as Rosamund Pike's performance in Gone Girl, and the fact that we've had two Oscar worthy performances from both male and female leads in what's really just the first month of the Oscar season awesome. This is setting up what could be one of the better Oscar seasons of recent memory. But that's getting off topic. Anyway, let's dive into shall we?
First off, the movie is beautifully shot. Ya, took that in a direction you weren't expecting huh? But really. The cinematography of the movie was outstanding. Most of it is shot at night, and it was shot in a way that totally engrossed you into the movie to the point that I had a weird sensory experience exiting the theater after realizing that it was the middle of the day. That is entirely thanks to the cinematography from Robert Elswit. Next up, the story. At this point, I've seen a lot of movies. 99 times out of 100, I can kind of guess where a movie is going. That's not a quirk against movies it's just most are somewhat predictable. The good guy usually wins! It's just a question of how he wins that makes a movie fun. However Nightcrawler is that 100th movie. I had no idea where this movie was going, leading to a first watch experience I have not had since watching District 9 for the first time. I was legitimately shocked by several of the events throughout the movie and I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish wondering where this was going to go at every point. FINALLY from start to finish! YAY! I've been yelling at third acts so much this year it's nice to see the complete product for a change. And yes, finally, the acting was incredible. Not just Gyllenhall's Oscar-worthy performance, but also the performances of Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed as the primary supporting characters. Even Bill Paxton has a great performance in here, albeit a short one. Russo was spectacular as the executive producer of the newsroom Gyllenhall sends his footage to, putting in one of the better performances of her distinguished career. However it's Gyllenhall who steals the show. (obviously or I wouldn't be talking about it so much) Gyllenhall's performance is chilling. He completely immerses himself into the role right down to a very creepy accent that would be classified as unnecessary but adds so much to the character. Definitely one of the best performances I've seen in recent memory. I would legitimately recommend this movie on his performance alone.
I don't have that many complaints in the movie short of one: the entire story is incredibly unethical, and the fact that there is only one quick scene where the newsroom releasing the footage caught by Gyllenhaal's character questions the ethics of where the footage came from drove me CRAZY. I mean really guys? We are just going to be (mostly) ok with showing the footage he captures? Not to mention how incredibly graphic some of the footage is so there's no way any newsroom would ever allow anything as brutal and gruesome as this to be released on their show, let alone a local TV morning show. While this kind of reduces the credibility of something like this actually happening, when you just look at the film as a character study of how far one individual is willing to go to get what he wants, you will see something great. Just...don't go into it expecting a Gone Girl level of realism attached to the situation. I blame The Newsroom for making me look at the movie like I did....
In short, this film absolutely has the makings of a cult classic. It has not done well at the box office thus far, but anyone who sees it will definitely want to see it again and again. What's with Gyllenhall and starring in cult classics....?
The Critique: One of the better films of the year thus far, Nightcrawler is a riveting character piece with an incredible performance from its lead.
The Recommendation: PLEASE. GO SEE THIS MOVIE. PLEASE.
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome
Oscar Talk: I really hope the lack of sales at the box office does not lead to Gyllenhall getting overlooked for Best Actor. Cause that needs to happen. Also don't be surprised to see a nod to cinematography too.
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