An incredible performance from its leading man, and a picture well in tune with its style makes Nightcrawler one of the years best films.
Ever since the ‘next big thing’ stamp was labelled on Jake Gyllenhaal, the actor has struggled to find his way in Hollywood, popping up occasionally for the big roles and disappearing for what seems like years. Between every Brokeback Mountain, there was a Jarhead. One would get the impression that the young actor is yet to find his place in between the bright lights. It’s only recently then, that after a string of interesting riles and excellent performances, we are beginning to see something of a personal renaissance for the actor. Roles such as the understated detective Loki in Prisoners and the brash police officer Brian Taylor in End of Watch are to name but two examples in which audiences have been treated to fine performances from Gyllenhaal. It is in Nightcrawler however, where the actor not only offers what might be the finest performance of his career, but also of this year in film.
Writer/director Dan Gilroy’s debut film takes the audience into the underworld of the Los Angeles news scene through the eyes of Gyllenhaal’s emaciated Louis Bloom; a sociopathic loner who steals things for cash as he fails to get job after job.
One night he comes across a nightcrawler, predatory freelancers who film any crime scenes they can find to sell to the highest bidder. As Bloom finds his way into the industry through savvy producer Nina (Renne Russo), his character begins to manifest itself as something of a feral animal.
This is where the film truly becomes its own. As the film picks up pace into the second act, Gilroy’s vividly brooding director, James Newton Howard’s electric score and Gyllenhaal’s wide eyed performance all play in perfect tune together, building a stylized mood piece, firmly in the grip of Gyllenhaal’s performance, which Gilroy entrusts the whole film to.
Although things become a little bit skewed towards the end, there is no doubt that Nightcrawler is an assured effort from a director that demonstrates a handling of character development way beyond his experience. The film’s intentions from the beginning are signaled immediately – this is a character piece, and Gilroy constructs a world so pertinent to the character of Louis Bloom that it makes even the most disturbing parts of the film appear normal through the eyes of its characters.
On a budget so small with a director thats vision is so big, Nightcrawler deserves its place on the growing list of indie hits to treat its audiences this year. It shouts at award season recognition, although whether those cries fall on deaf ears remains to be seen. More please, from a new director not lacking flair and a new Jake Gyllenhaal with suave and charisma to boot.