Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. For more information on the festival visit http://tiff.net and follow TIFF on Twitter at @TIFF_NET.
In Dan Gilroy’s marvelous directorial debut, the gritty, neo-noir Nightcrawler; a gaunt and greasy looking Jake Gyllenhaal gives his most captivating performance to date. Playing the mysterious psychopath Lou Bloom; a petty thief who stumbles upon the underworld of crime journalism, subsequently discovering his twisted version of the American Dream.
In Dan Gilroy’s marvelous directorial debut, the gritty, neo-noir Nightcrawler; a gaunt and greasy looking Jake Gyllenhaal gives his most captivating performance to date.
Gyllenhaal remarked in a Q and A at the film, that his inspiration for the character derived from the actual coyotes he witnessed peering at him, as they seeped into the city of L.A. after sunset. It shows. Gyllenhaal`s Bloom emerges from the darkness, with no back-story. He appears inhuman and feral, with unblinking eyes that penetrate his prey, searching for their weakness. As the film opens, Bloom, cutting into a chain-link fence, with a trunk full of stolen scrap metal is approached by security. Bloom first tries to charm his way out of it, until his eyes hungrily fix on the guard`s watch. As the camera follows his gaze, and zooms in on his prize, it cuts to Bloom`s shadow enveloping the guard; in the next scene Bloom is grinning maniacally, driving with his bounty and a sparkling new watch on his wrist. What happened to the guard? Whatever had to.
After witnessing an equally greasy looking veteran Nightcrawler, Bill Paxton, film a gruesome car crash to sell to the highest bidding nightly news station, Bloom believes he’s found his calling. A quick-learning, eager go-getter, he’s almost sympathetic as he spends his days in isolation, ironing his few shirts and learning everything he can about his new venture. After he successfully films a close-up of a dying man bleeding from his neck, he quickly woos Nina (Rene Russo), a washed-up anchor turned news director desperate for better ratings. A toxic symbiotic relationship is birthed as Bloom will do anything to get the “money-shot”, and Nina will air anything to boost ratings and keep her job. As his ruthlessness (and bordering on illegal) work in the field garners him more money and more leading spots “if it bleeds, it leads”, remarks Paxton, he is able to hire Rick (played by the talented Riz Ahmed), a homeless man, who has no choice but to take the meager scraps Bloom offers. Bloom quickly asserts his power and ownership over Nina and Rick, as his sinister intentions emerge. Over a dinner which Bloom has blackmailed Nina into, she becomes increasingly more uneasy as Bloom, eyes as hungry as ever, gives his lists of demands, knowing she cannot refuse, producing one of the most memorable lines in the movie “friendship is a gift you give yourself”, he says grinning, to a flabbergasted and defeated Russo.
The film starts out slow, as brilliant cinematographer Robert Elswit (Magnolia, There Will be Blood) brings the city to life as its own character.
The film starts out slow, as brilliant cinematographer Robert Elswit (Magnolia, There Will be Blood) brings the city to life as its own character. Showcasing montages of the city’s bright lights at night, juxtaposed with the darkness of the wild that exists just beyond the city’s borders, where the Nightcrawlers and prowlers emerge. A city that was never able to shake its scuzzy, malevolent nature. As the pace picks up in the third act of the film, the camera work does as well, high-speed chases, more blood, more action, more flames; it’s a parallel to Bloom’s personality twisting.
Nightcrawler is a brilliant film and character study, whose enigmantic, sociopathic anti-hero will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, and sacrifice anyone in his way. Because, “If you want to play the lottery, then you have to make the money to buy a ticket.”
Nightcrawler is a brilliant film and character study, whose enigmantic, sociopathic anti-hero will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, and sacrifice anyone in his way.
I didn't have a Star Wars themed birthday party until I turned 27. It's all downhill from there. Forever wishing I could be Rose Byrne in Damages, and will always be grateful for Liz Lemon, who taught men and women everywhere that when you have greasy pizza hands, socks serve as a great alternative to napkins.