Nightcrawler ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
In Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a fast-talking young man with a line of blather, a certain amount of charm, and a burning desire to succeed in his chosen profession. He goes around the scary streets of Los Angeles at night, looking for accidents, shootings or crimes in progress so he can film them. He then sells what he films to TV news stations, which will pay lots of money for the bloodiest and most sensational film footage—the more blood, mayhem, and human misery, the better. This is the stuff that brings in viewers.
We see right away that Louis Bloom is bereft of morals. He steals an expensive bicycle early in the movie and pawns it to buy himself a video camera and the equipment he needs. He ingratiates himself to a news director at a Los Angeles television station, a woman named Nina (Rene Russo). She is charmed by his bravado and sees he has a real eye for TV journalism, or, in other words, he is a deft purveyor of the kind of sleaze that is her life’s blood. (Her job might be on the line if she fails to deliver the kind of trashy visuals her audience has come to expect.)
Louis hires an assistant named Rick (Rick Garcia) for thirty dollars a night. Rick is everything that Louis is not; he’s hesitant and lacking in confidence. He wants to make good (as he tells Louis, he is sleeping in a garage) but we see he isn’t suited for the kind of things that Louis expects him to do. If he had any sense, he would walk away, but, of course, he doesn’t and he comes to a bad end.
When Louis and Rick accidentally stumble on a crime in progress, an apparent “home invasion” (that turns out to be something else) in a house in an upscale neighborhood, it is heaven-sent for Louis. He hides outside and films the whole thing taking place inside the house, including gunshots. After he films two men leaving, he goes inside and films the bloody crime scene up close, including three shooting victims. When he takes this film footage to Nina to sell to her, he demands an exorbitant fee. (To give himself leverage and bargaining power, not to mention big money, he withholds the part of the film that shows the two men leaving the crime scene, landing himself in hot water with the police.)
Nightcrawler is intelligent and literate, if a little verbose. Louis Bloom is an interesting and complex character. Lots of adjectives might apply to him, including unscrupulous, self-aggrandizing and opportunistic. Jake Gyllenhaal is convincing every step of the way (he had an awful lot of dialogue to memorize). Also memorable are Nina (when Louis makes sexual advances, she says she doesn’t date people she works with and, anyway, she’s twice his age, which would make her about 68) and Rick, who has a kind of Ratso Rizzo appeal, although he’s a lot cleaner than that.
Copyright © 2014 by Allen Kopp