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Nightcrawler: I’m Looking At You

December 21, 2014

NIghtcrawler movie poster

Nightcrawler features the perfect combination of Dan Gilroy’s writing/directing and Jake Gyllenhaal’s wired performance. The film never fully explains its lead character and that is why I love it. Gyllenhaal is a mixture of Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle and a slimy chameleon. He isn’t a sociopath because everyone knows he is weird. He isn’t a complete psychopath because he can control his impulses. He is a unique creation and one of the best characters of 2014.

Nightcrawler revolves around a total maniac’s rise to owning a successful business. We know nothing about the guy other than he does all his research on the internet and is adept at using people’s weaknesses against them. He begins filming crime scenes for money and this leads him to Rene Russo’s early morning news producer. From there the movie gets bloody, wild and sorta like Taxi Driver.

This may seem like a random aside but Dan Gilroy is fantastic at showing and not telling. He wrote the The Bourne Legacy and his introduction to Edward Norton’s character says everything about him. He is running in the cold rain at 4:00 AM. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that he is a driven man who won’t let rain or cold stop him from running early in the morning. Many films explain away the bad guys and don’t let the audience learn about them organically. Gilroy peals away the layers of Lou Bloom and he becomes scarier and scarier as the film moves along.

lou bloom

My favorite scene takes place in the beginning of the film. Gyllenhaal is stealing some fencing and is caught by a security patrolman. Gyllenhaal realizes the man isn’t a cop and he has a great watch. He pounces on the man and either knocks him out or kills him. Nobody ever looks into the crime so I am assuming he killed the guard and stashed the body. There is no back story or explanation. We understand that this character will kill to get a better watch. It leaves a lot of questions about his history that will never be answered and I love that.

After End of Watch and Prisoners I’ve been waiting for Gyllenhaal to get the critical acclaim he deserves. His character Lou Bloom is a unique creation that walks a tight rope of control. If he goes too far he becomes a caraicature. If he mimics a performance it won’t have any personality. His Lou Bloom character is the scariest creation since Heath Ledger’s Joker.

He and Rene Russo have one of best scenes of the year. There is no action or sex. We get two people, one dinner table and several margaritas.  The two light up the screen and the calculated manipulation is delivered in a evil and practiced manner. Lou Bloom is skilled at using people’s weaknesses against them and he does so in this scene with aplomb.

Nightcrawler may not draw you in emotionally but it will impress with its acting, writing and directing. It gave us an original story and a great new character. I hope that Gyllenhaal is remembered during the awards season.

Check it out and let me know what you think!



4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2014 2:16 pm

    Gyllenhaal is terrific here. I truly do hope he gets nominated. If he doesn’t, there will be some angry people. Including myself. Good review.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      December 22, 2014 9:26 am

      He is amazing isn’t he? He just keeps getting better in my eyes. Great actor. Can’t wait to see him jacked back up and playing a boxer next year.

  2. December 22, 2014 12:46 pm

    He plays this role with terrifying ease 😀


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