Monday, 27 October 2014

Review: Nightcrawler

World of Blackout Film Review

Nightcrawler Poster

Cert: 15 / 117 mins / Dir. Dan Gilroy
WoB Rating: 6/7

A fast-talking, but ultimately unfocused loner, Louis Bloom ekes out a life as a petty thief and con-man, until one night he witnesses a road accident close-up and gets an idea of the money which can be made in selling first-shot footage of emergency and crime scenes to TV news networks. Armed only with a camcorder, police radio scanner and a fanatical determination, Louis quickly establishes a name for himself as the man behind some of TV's most gruesome reportage, and he soon discovers there's a fine line between being an early-witness to a scene and a late-participant. But when money and exclusivity dictate morality, those lines are hard to see in the Los Angeles night…

Typical, isn't it? You wait years for a film about a deranged fantasist who'll stop at nothing to manipulate everyone around them in the cold pursuit of an ever elusive goal, set against the backdrop of the worst aspects of US broadcast media… and then two come along at once. In many ways, Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler is the perfect companion-piece to Gone Girl, but where Rosamund Pike's Amy leads the TV companies (among others) on a merry dance as an aid to her cause, Jake Gyllenhaal's Louis becomes the media, in a deepening spiral of attention-seeking narcissism.

The film features an award-worthy performance from Gyllenhaal. The mania we see in the trailer is only a shadow of what's in the film, and Jake brings a complex performance to a single-minded character. There are hints that Louis has an undiagnosed learning disorder, and in the early part of the film is pretty much the only sympathetic trait for the audience to grasp. But his sociopathic personality almost renders that moot, and as the events in the film spiral worryingly well-within control, we're left simultaneously mesmerised and horrified, watching what's essentially the Scarface of rolling news.

For the supporting cast, Rene Russo gets her teeth into the role of Channel 6 news manager, Nina Romina, the source of Bloom's income and object of his manipulative affections. Riz Ahmed also shines as the nervous and put-upon Rick, general assistant and street-navigator in Louis's burgeoning enterprise. It's worth noting that pretty much all the other characters (crucially including Bill Paxton's rival nightcrawler, Joe) are reduced to background roles and stepping-stones, which is exactly how Louis sees them. As much of an astounding team-effort as this is, Nightcrawler really is Jake's film.

A story which picks you up with its sheer force of character and refuses to let go, Nightcrawler makes complicit, rubber-necked ghouls of us all. Not so much a cautionary tale, more a statement about where we are and how we got here; Dan Gilroy's film is perfect car-crash cinema, and for once that's a soaring compliment…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
It points in the right direction; tonally, at least.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I did.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Pretty sure it does, yes.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Nightcrawler is visually dark as well as thematically, so it's pretty much designed to be watched in a darkened auditorium.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Maybe a little.

Will I watch it again?
I will, indeed.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There ain't.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
A bright red Camaro for stealth-reporting, though? I'm glad that got mentioned in the script, because it's what the rest of us had been thinking for about forty-five minutes…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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