Allow me to get the buzzwords out of the way. Thrilling. Engrossing. Mesmerizing. Unnerving. Any number of these words and words like these can be used to describe Jake Gyllenhaal’s newly released thriller, nightcrawler. In a chilling but darkly comical Frankenstein’s monster of network, American psycho and Drive, it follows Gyllenhaal in what I can only describe as the male performance to beat this year. In it Gyllenhaal is accompanied by a small but well put together ensemble of Renée Russo Bill Paxton and Riz Ahmed.
Mr. Gyllenhaal plays Louis bloom, and odd but resourceful thief who stumbles upon the world of freelance crime journalism in Los Angeles. Well it is never stated, he appears to be playing the character of louis bloom is someone on the autism spectrum and, evidenced by his characters detachment from anything resembling a moral barometer (which at first makes him seem like a sociopath) as well as a number of physical idiosyncrasies and and mannerisms. Like Ryan Gosling’s character of the driver, we are given no background information on his character. Any information he does give can only be taken with a grain of salt, As Louis Bloom is a master of words, slyly, and often to terrifying affect, talking his way into what he wants not with charisma or likability but with cold statistics and ruthlessness while still demonstrating a broad range of emotions (though nothing resembling remorse or mercy).
The cinematography, which takes place primarily at night, is subtle but effective, building tension almost effortlessly. The film is surprisingly not gratuitous with the violent subject matter it entails. Rather than focusing on the brutality of the crimes documented by Louis bloom, the camera instead lingers on bloom himself, separated from the grizzly scenes before him by his camera. It also accentuates the connectivity modern Los Angeles, frequently focusing on Broadcast towers, satellite dishes on people’s homes, and cables. The film also offers a biting indictment on the manipulative nature of the news media as well as the inherent racial profiling that it facilitates.
It continues to be a fantastic year for film, not only within the sphere of action blockbusters, but in your regular suspense thrillers and dramas. I would normally call these kinds of films Oscar bait, But between Nightcrawler, Gone Girl and earlier films like Filth, Grand Budapest Hotel and Chef, for once I think I have an idea about how the Oscars will be going this year, and I couldn’t be more excited.