117 Min | Crime – Drama – Thriller | October 2014
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton
Nightcrawler Review: “Nightcrawler” is the kind of film that will catch audiences by surprise with its painstaking thoughtfulness, and features the kind of lead character that will be discussed in film circles who don’t detest American cinema and actually give it the benefit of the doubt. The film plunges us into the dark, seedy world of a nightcrawler, somebody who, often working freelance with his or her own equipment and schedule, patrols the streets of crowded cities with multiple police scanners searching for recently-committed crimes in the neighborhood, like rape, shootings, murders, car accidents, and so forth. The object of a nightcrawler is to get candid and intimate shots of the ugliness that plagues these scenarios as quickly and as neatly as possible and sell them to news stations or eyewitness programs to turn quick profit.
The other feature “Nightcrawler” toys with is the contemporary exploration of journalistic ethics and how, with local cable news competing with so many twenty-four hour news stations, who, in turn, are also battling more rapidly-updated social media websites, the manipulation of news is ever-present on Television. News programs, like sitcoms, reality shows, and sports events, are a game of numbers and those numbers are ratings – something that “Nightcrawler” makes depressingly clear to us. A crucial scene to this message comes into play when Lou has shot and sold the defining tape of his career and has worked to manipulate it for personal gain. He watches as Nina plays the tape on the air, directing the news anchors in such a specific way in terms of language and mannerisms that we see the fear-mongering happen right before our eyes.
“Nightcrawler,” in addition, features a wonderful performance by Gyllenhaal who, like his co-star Paul Dano in last year’s “Prisoners,” plays detached and empty with such conviction, and channels something of an inner-Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Owning Mahowny,” showing his character’s complete fulfillment when obsessing over his job and his work. Even Riz Ahmed shouldn’t be overlooked here, playing the overworked and under-appreciated assistant to Gyllenhaal’s Lou in a role that could’ve been an empty, and even distracting, side role. The entire project is rich in commentary, performances, and environmental beauty that it could easily be one of the most complete films of the year.