The blurb: NIGHTCRAWLER is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling – where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou thrives. In the breakneck, ceaseless search for footage, he becomes the star of his own story.
The verdict: Cinema occasionally offers up a truly memorable character, one who becomes a by-word for a character archetype; Gordon Gecko, Travis Bickle, The Dude… (ignoring those that started life as literary works). Lou Bloom, Dan Gilroy’s monstrous creation can definitely be added to the roster of vivid and enduring cinematic characters, helped in no small part by Jake Gyllenhaal’s un-nerving, and self-assured performance. Nightcrawler really is a character driven piece, seeing the journey that desperate, jobless Lou goes on to make his name in the world, and the terrifying lengths he goes to to get what he wants. Endlessly quoting the self-help books and many internet training courses he has taken, Lou is a man who is going places, at any price.
Nightcrawler moves between being a satire of the modern 24 hour ‘if it bleeds it leads’ news age and a chilling morality tale/thriller, with moments of pitch-black humour. While being a take on the modern media age, Nightcrawler has a peculiarly timeless quality to it, with many scenes feeling like they could be taking place during any era from the 1960’s, as there is some clever set and costume design afoot.
James Newton Howard’s soundtrack also gives the film an edge, with tracks constantly echoing Lou’s own feelings about events, rather than what unfolds in front of us. Moments which could have played as dark and creepy are given uplifting anthems to back them, highlighting the disconnect between Lou’s world and reality.
Clever, engrossing and chilling, Nightcrawler has ‘cult classic’ written all over it.
9 out of 10