Monday, November 10, 2014

REVIEW: Nightcrawler


Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo


October 31, 2014

Dan Gilroy

Open Road Films

1 hour 57 minutes



"Nightcrawler" is the type of film that explores the craziness of its central character without fully delving into the psychological factor of his life.  The character of Louis Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a man who will do whatever he thinks is necessary to get himself to the top.  The movie opens with him stealing some chains off of a gate in the pursuit of making some quick cash.  When trying to sell the chains and a few other things to a buyer, he makes a proposition on how he'd be more than qualified to work for this man, ending his mini speech by saying his motto: "If you wanna win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket."  This motto, and even this entire 7 minute chunk of the movie, basically describes the type of person Lou is, as well as gives an explanation for why he does what he does throughout the entirety of it all.  To describe this movie is to describe Lou Bloom as well: twisted, insane, unpredictable, and darkly hilarious.

If you look up writer/director Dan Gilroy on IMDB, two movies that he wrote the screenplay for will prominently be shown as the top results: "The Bourne Legacy" and "Real Steel."  I've only seen the latter of the two, but from what I saw in "Real Steel," Gilroy had a well-developed story that made for an entertaining family action flick.  With "Nightcrawler," Gilroy not only shows the capability he has as a screenwriter, but also the capabilities he has as a filmmaker in general.  The style that he has here is slick and engaging, with the story and the direction allowing the viewer to be fully engaged with everything going on, despite most of the film being conversations between Lou Bloom and others.  In fact, I would say that Gilroy's creation of Bloom is one for the ages, and overall is a character who has a lot of complex and surreal layers to him.  Saying that Gilroy gets all of the credit for this character isn't exactly fair, as the man who portrays Lou, Jake Gyllenhaal.

In general, it would be extremely difficult to talk about this movie without talking about Jake Gyllenhaal's mesmerizing performance as Lou.  This character is sly, intelligent,  vicious, and a force not to be reckoned with.  Despite his character learning about the television industry with fresh eyes, he's able to turn himself into an expert on it, thus giving him the ability to manipulate and persuade others to help him get to the top.  What. I found to be so brilliant about this character is that he's able to be menacing and terrifying through his calculated words and not through the means of cursing or even violence.  This came to me as something of a relief considering that we live in a world of violence, sex, and language, and here comes Louis Bloom just staying calm and stern as he threatens a person he's talking to.

The character of Lou himself, in a really strange way, reminded me of myself.  Lou is a person who has a vision in life and, at least in the way I perceived it, saw life as his own circus or movie of sorts. Everything he does seems to be carefully calculated and structured in such a way that he's never actually wrong and is always going to get his way.  The idea of him seeing life as a film struck me during this big chase scene in the film's climax in which, without trying to spoil anything, made it seem like Lou thought of himself as a director of sorts.  There are explosions, an extremely fast pace, and Lou simply follows it all while telling his assistant to never stop filming it all.  There are also other moments where, in order to "direct" his life, he will do things that are shocking and strangely unsurprising considering the circumstances Lou is put into by others.  It's because of these traits, along with how committed and method Gyllenhaal's performance was, that makes this, to me, the best performance of 2014 thus far.

Everything in "Nightcrawler," like the name suggests, crawls into your mind for 2 hours and gives you as an audience member an insane trip into the corrupt world of TV news in Los Angeles.  This film isn't for the faint of heart, but rather those who are looking to see one man's mission to get to the top and the methods that he has to do this.  If it wasn't for Gilroy's sharp direction and script, the film's dark sense of humor, and Jake Gyllenhaal's commanding, even Award-worthy, performance, then I don't know how exactly the film would have played out.  Luckily we live in a world where this scenario is a reality, and that is something we should all be happy about.  "Nightcrawler" is a twisted and wickedly awesome thriller that manages to get under your skin while being an entertaining-as-hell movie at the same time.


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