The Bourne Legacy writer, Dan Gilroy, makes his directorial debut with creepy crime drama, Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The Oscar nominee shines in a flick that, on the face of it, is about journalism and the reporting of news, but is oh so more than that. In a period where the ethics of journalism has been questioned extensively, Nightcrawler comes at a time when its issues – pushing the boundaries of news reporting to its extremes – are very relevant.
Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a desperate man looking for a break in life. A loner with an ambitious streak, he spots a chance to make something of himself by entering the world of nightcrawling. With a second hand camcorder and his newly hired assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed), he heads out into the dark corners of L.A. in search of every road traffic accident, robbery or murder they can find to film and sell to local news stations. Egged on by veteran news station manager, Nina Romina (Rene Russo), Bloom pushes everything to the limit in order to rake in the cash in what is an extremely morally dubious operation.
The story, interesting, engaging, and in some ways rather ludicrous, is held together by Gyllenhaal’s awe inspiring creep-tastic performance. Looking like death warmed up (he lost 20 pounds for the role), his whole persona made for extremely uncomfortable viewing. A tired, deathly stare and an uncomfortable charm, the relationship between him and Romina was equally as disconcerting as it was strangely engrossing. Bloom, as a character, is far too interesting to let any issues with the storyline affect ones enjoyment of the film. Some of the things that happen – the situations he is in, and the lack of consequences to his actions – seem too ridiculous to believe, but the 33-year-old owns the screen, and in turn steals the show, with his depiction of how far a person is willing to go in order to make something of themselves.
Gyllenhaal’s performance is the best thing about Nightcrawler, but Gilroy’s debut feature should be recognised as an intriguing piece of work in its own right. Raising moral and ethical issues of a profession used to being under the microscope of the watching world, it is also an examination of a man – troubled, but highly complex – whose own ambitions push him to the limit, both professionally and personally.