Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler
I’ve seen many different versions of Jake Gyllenhaal. I’ve seen creepy Jake Gyllenhaal and I’ve seen serious Jake Gyllenhaal. I’ve seen him play two different characters in the same movie and I’ve seen him do some weird stuff when he was a younger actor. But, in Nightcrawler, this is a Jake Gyllenhaal unlike anything you’ve ever seen. He sinks into this role so much that you don’t even recognize him. Creepy doesn’t even give his character justice as a descriptor. One thing is for sure with Nightcrawler; this movie is not like anything you’ve ever seen. And that’s a good thing.
Nightcrawler is a fantastic film. It is slick and fun and it never gets boring. I don’t even know how long the movie is but you never feel like you’ve been sitting there for too long. It’s probably a two hour movie that feels much shorter. You won’t find a movie like this one ever. It is so unique and different that it will stick in your mind for a long time after watching it.
The story is a little hard to explain. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a guy you don’t really know a whole lot about. He’s one of those guys who learns everything he knows from reading about it on the internet. From how to interview for a job all the way to how to generally talk to people. You can tell something isn’t quite right with him but he is just so much fun to watch. So the film follows Bloom as he tries to establish himself as a freelance cameraman to try and sell video to news stations. It is a cutthroat business with competition in the form of Joe Loder (Bill Paxton). He races to make a name for himself, filming fires, crashes, murder, and other forms of mayhem; turning victims into a paycheck.
It sounds very straightforward and it is, but there is also a lot going on. I can’t stress enough how good Jake Gyllenhaal is in this film. He used to be that actor I would avoid when picking out movies to watch. He’s never been a bad actor by any means, but he had done his share of “blah” movies for a bit there. He did below average flicks like Prince of Persia, The Day After Tomorrow, and Love and Other Drugs. But the past couple years, he has really been impressing me. He was stone cold in Prisoners. He was funny and did some good dramatic work in End of Watch. He was fantastic in several ways in Enemy. And now with Nightcrawler, he is pushing his limits even further as an actor.
Also impressive is Rene Russo as Nina, the television producer who takes Lou’s grisly footage to get higher ratings. A couple reels of footage later and the two form a kind of partnership. Lou isn’t a good person at all. He will do whatever it takes to get ahead and you could probably say the same for Nina. She’s just as monstrous as he is, except she knows where to draw the line. Lou doesn’t. Lou is a hard worker though. He has dedication and he is determined to get where he wants to go. He just will do absolutely anything to get there. And I mean anything.
Just watching Gyllenhaal’s character operate in this movie is enough to make you squirm. Gyllenhaal must have lost some weight because he looks pretty skinny in this one. His eyes are droopy, his hair is shaggy, and he looks…off. And he is. You are following his character but you know he has no morals. If anything, you feel bad for his assistant and sidekick Rick (Riz Ahmed). He has to listen to Lou bicker and complain about things. He gets completely used by Lou and it doesn’t help Lou’s image by any means. If I had to sit in a car and listen to Lou’s lectures, I’d scream.
All you can do is shake your head at some of the things Lou does. While he is doing them, you are in awe that a human being could be okay with doing them. His behavior at the scene of a home invasion is a great indicator of this. Watching Gyllenhaal just disappear into this role is impressive and scary at the same time. It makes you uncomfortable watching it, but yet you can’t look away because it’s amazing entertainment. There are thrilling chase scenes, frightening conversations, and actions that have consequences. That plus the brilliant writing make this a movie you shouldn’t miss.
Nightcrawler has a lot of things working for it. It has moments of light comedy, dark humor, and super intense and dark drama too. It has fantastic performances all around, while Jake Gyllenhaal kills it in his role. One of the funnier scenes in the movie is when Rick is interviewing for a job as Lou’s intern. The questions Lou asks and the manner in which he asks them is hilarious. But this film can go dark, and it does. One of the scariest scenes in the movie isn’t even a chase scene or Lou filming a murder scene or anything like that. It is a simple conversation between Lou and Nina where he describes just the price she’ll have to pay to keep his services. It involves something a whole lot different than an increase in pay. It is very uncomfortable and the two actors nailed it. Just the thought of that scene gives me goosebumps and makes me feel uneasy at the same time.
The only misstep the movie makes is that as a whole, it tries to showcase the seediness and dark side of Televison News. It isn’t an unheard of topic and we all kind of know there is a seedy side to it. It does succeed in showing the unpleasant nature of that particular business, but it takes it and transforms it into an action film. I’m not complaining because I enjoyed this movie to no end, but I think this topic could have been handled better strictly as a drama. But as I said, this film is entirely entertaining and captivating. Time flies because it is so easy to immerse yourself into this world that director Dan Gilroy creates. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is crazy good and reason enough to see this movie. But in case it isn’t, the fact that it is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year should help. This is a movie everyone should see at least once.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom
Rene Russo as Nina Romina
Riz Ahmed as Rick
Bill Paxton as Joe Loder
Ann Cusack as Linda
Kevin Rahm as Frank Kruse
Kathleen “Bird” York as Jackie
WHAT I LIKED:
+: Jake Gyllenhaal is a beast. He sinks his teeth into a role and disappears entirely. It doesn’t take long to realize that Gyllenhaal has transformed himself into someone completely different. There is no aspect of Gyllenhaal in the character of Lou Bloom. He is creepy, sadistic, motivated, and will do anything to succeed. He changed his look and personality completely. He owns the role and it some of the best acting you’ll see.
+: Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and the rest of the supporting cast all give great performances.
+: Extremely thrilling
+: Makes you feel uneasy and uncomfortable…but in good ways.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: Could have gone further into the seediness and bad side of TV News. Could have been done in a more dramatic way.