Film Review: Nightcrawler

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Nightcrawler is a great, and twisted, little thriller, with a possible career best performance out of Jake Gyllenhaal.

Following the formative moments of Louis Bloom’s rise in the world of night crawling, the art of chasing and recording the aftermath of violent crimes, Nightcrawler takes us all over LA at night as Bloom tries to make his business as lucrative as possible.

Nightcrawler is a messed up movie. A hilariously messed up movie mind you, but messed up nonetheless. The film doesn’t revel in gore or over the top suspense, Nightcrawler earns its WTF stripes by pushing just how far Gyllenhaal’s Bloom is willing to go for his business over the course of the film. The film never lets you forget what Bloom is capable of, reminding you subtly with that watch, but I can’t deny that the film constantly caught me by surprise by how far he is willing to go. Featuring some amazing set pieces and great performances all around, Nightcrawler is easily one of the best films you will find in the theater this year.

Now, I mentioned the film is hilarious, but that will certainly depending on how black you like your humor. I enjoy the pitch black variety as much as anyone else, and Nightcrawler certainly stacks up against some of the best in recent memory. This will all depend on how much you can laugh at Gyllenhaal’s Bloom, who I found hilarious pretty much throughout the whole film. Gyllenhaal is just so good and carries himself so awkwardly confident that you can’t help but smile along with Bloom’s creepy grin, even when he is participating in some rather deplorable behavior.

I can’t stress enough how fantastic Gyllenhaal is in Nightcrawler, as he delivers one of the years and possibly his best performance to date. Gyllenhaal is always great in my book, but I’ve never seen him disappear into a character as much as he does with Bloom. Gyllenhaal has been getting pretty close to what he pulls off here with his recent work for Denis Villeneuve, but his work in those films can’t top Bloom. Rene Russo is the only other major lead in the film and she makes a great evolution as a news producer the falls in line with Bloom for his footage. She particularly shines in a behind the scenes moment at the TV station as we see her produce a segment on the fly. Bill Paxton is always great to see as well, but he doesn’t get a whole lot to do sadly.

Dan Gilroy does a great job in the director’s chair, creating some fantastic sequences, but his support staff really elevates the material. Robert Elswit’s photography is gorgeous, capturing the LA nights in a heightened state to raise the tension. James Newton Howard also deserves special mention for his great score that constantly has you doubting how you should be feeling as it is supportive of Bloom, even in his darkest moments. The only complaint I can really level against the film is that it slows down to almost a halt on a couple of occasions, but it never really bothered me as whatever came before and after these beats were incredibly thrilling. It will be interesting how these beats will play on a second viewing, but I wonder how much more exhilarating Nightcrawler could have been if these moments flowed just a bit more in line with the rest of the film. That said, a number of the films best one liners fall in these quieter beats.

Nightcrawler is one of my favorites of the year and a film I can’t wait to watch again. Jake Gyllenhaal is incredible and the film is full of slick technical elements as well. This film had me utter “Holy shit,” out loud at a moment or two in the theater, Nightcrawler revels in making you feel that way.

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