The psychological thriller ‘Nightcrawler’ made its nationwide debut this Halloween.
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he film was written and directed by Dan Gilroy and centers around the exploits of what is commonly referred to in the news industry as a ‘stringer’; I’ll agree that ‘Nightcrawler’ is a much catchier title. The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and Bill Paxton. With introductions out of the way, let’s dive into the meat of the film.
Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a man living through recent tough economic times and finding less than legal ways to make ends meet through stealing chain-link fence, manhole covers, and copper wires and selling them to recycling plants. One nigh,t he sees an accident on the side of the freeway and pulls over to investigate, then comes to understand what it is that stringers do: race to the scenes of accidents, murders, and fires etc. to get on the scene footage to sell to local news channels.
It is in this industry that we see Bloom delve to deeper and deeper into morbid curiosity and do exceedingly unforgivable things to excel in his craft. Gyllenhaal plays the character wonderfully and allows the audience to understand what the character is doing is obviously wrong, without hating him entirely. Rene Russo also does a fantastic job of playing a brutally unforgiving news director who describes her broadcast as “a woman running down the street, screaming, with her throat slit” and someone who is just as responsible for what Louis Bloom becomes as Bloom is himself.
The plot of ‘Nightcrawler’ is fairly sound, with holes few and far between that give the audience a chance to say “Hey…wouldn’t it be like THIS in real life?”. But the film is less about plot than it is a character study in what happens when a man’s fierce entrepreneurial spirit is thrown into the morbid business stringers engage in to get the news industry what sells on the screen: blood, fear, and violence. The film does not shy away from calling the television news industry out on its tactics that are evident after watching a televised news broadcast for 10 minutes, which is done in a refreshing and thoughtful way.
One of the aspects of the film that also stood out was the cinematography. There are fantastic shots of Los Angeles’ many famous land marks and even those that you might not recognize if you’re not a native. Also, the moving shots of Gyllenhaal capturing his footage allow you to become immersed in the scenes.
While the film is solidly entertaining, I didn’t see it so much as a psychological thriller. There were really only 2 scenes that had me on the edge of my seat, dreading what was about to unfold. And in a 117 min film, I felt as though there were more moments where I could have felt that gripping intensity. Overall, the film is a fun ride, with intriguing commentary on the societal impacts of the television news industry. Aside from ratings, if asked by friends or family if they should see it in theaters or wait until RedBox, I would say this: If you want to appreciate a fantastic acting performance, engage in conversation about televised news, and enjoy some thrills along the way, see it on the big screen. If you’re looking for a white-knuckled, no holds barred, thriller- wait for RedBox.