When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Nightcrawler‘ is a stunning piece of filmmaking, driven by Jake Gyllenhaal’s finest ever performance and a terrific skewering of the 24 hour news business. The film tells the story of Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), an outsider who steals for a living, but does so with a bit more panache than your average petty thief, thanks to an online business course he quotes incessantly. Driving around one night, he comes across a serious car accident, and is intrigued by the camera crew that pull up with a van and start filming the incident in all its gory detail. Lou quickly learns about how this business works, buys the equipment and starts ‘Nightcrawling’ himself, with the help of a young homeless man (Riz Ahmed). Lou strikes up a prosperous relationship with Nina (Rene Russo), a local news director, and starts to take increasing risks to get the footage he needs to keep ahead of his competitors.

The film is the first time behind the director’s chair for screenwriter Dan Gilroy, and it’s a stunning debut. He’s helped immensely by Gyllenhaal, who is simply superb in the leading role, and is surely a leading contender for ‘Best Actor’ when the Oscar nominations are announced. Gyllenhaal lost 20lbs for the role and it shows, with his wiry and gaunt appearance strengthening the characterisation of Bloom, a depraved man who only comes alive at night. There are no concessions made with the bloody footage at some of the accidents and crime scenes, and the film successfully shows the dark underbelly of the 24 hour news cycle, and the lengths that editors and filmmakers will go to get the footage that will drive the ratings. In the two other leading roles, Riz Ahmed and Rene Russo both shine, with the scenes between Russo’s Nina and Gyllenhaal’s Lou particularly excellent.

Nightcrawler‘ is a superb culmination of acting, script and directing to create this terrific dark thriller through the lens of the morally corrupt Lou Bloom, and the system that allows him to behave in this way. The story escalates and Bloom takes bigger and bigger risks which leads to a thrilling finale and a great ending. ‘Nightcrawler‘ is one of the year’s best movies, with one of the year’s best performances, and I highly recommend seeing it.

Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton, Kevin Rahm and Eric Lange


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