Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler follows Luis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a driven young man desperate for work, who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling. Aided by Nina (Rene Russo), a local TV news director, Lou begins to blur the line between observer and participant in his ceaseless search for footage, as he becomes the star of his own story.
Serving as Gilroy’s directorial debut, Nightcrawler is a brilliant effort. It’s dark, somewhat creepy, sleek, stylish, and full of fast thrills. Gilroy’s directorial style is certainly one of quality, reminding me in some places of Nicolas Winding Refn’s classic Drive in terms of having a somewhat glamorous edge to a dark and dirty story. It’s all to do with how he handles it, and the way he uses dark satire to make us like a character who obviously has some very serious problems.
And that’s because, most of all, Nightcrawler is a great character study, led excellently by the ever-impressive Gyllenhaal. His performance holds your attention and, disturbingly, is almost relatable (“What if my problem isn’t that I don’t understand people, but that I don’t like them?”). I mean, most of us wouldn’t go to the lengths that Bloom does, but he certainly talks a lot of sense.
Gyllenhaal has had many great roles and has given some brilliant performances over the years – there’s Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac, Prisoners, Enemy, I could go on… – yet he’s an actor who’s so easy to forget about. But why? Many of the films he has led are some of my favourites, but it’s so easy to forget about Gyllenhaal’s talent. I would happily comment that his solid performance in Nightcrawler has asserted himself amongst the best actors of today, but I probably said that about Prisoners last year. It’s not that his performances are forgettable either, and his role as Louis Bloom here definitely isn’t, but Gyllenhaal is just one of those actors that we don’t give enough thought to. But we should! Because he’s pretty fantastic, let’s face it.