The nightlife throbs in Nightcrawler. When the streets are sparse and the air is humid, there’s an electricity in the air. Lou Bloom is a lonely guy who lives off of it.
We don’t know much about Jake Gyllenhaal’s lonely Lou. By the end credits, we still don’t know a heck of a lot about him – it’s exactly the point.
The film’s title very much fits Bloom’s personality as someone who blends into the darkness, and lurks around for contact. He’s constantly asking others for job opportunities, and the way he articulates each request shows he’s been rehearsing.
He’s an adequate listener and go-getter. His ability to pay close attention to detail hints he may have a sprinkling of a neurological disorder. He certainly has a social deficiency. But, filmmaker Dan Gilroy isn’t willing to spill any beans. The mysterious allure to Lou, the late-night atmosphere, and Bloom’s self-training as a news videographer is what gives Nightcrawler a special, ominous zeal.
Nightcrawler is Gilroy’s directorial debut. He puts all of his confidence in the film’s slow burn pacing and into Gyllenhaal’s central performance, and it pays off big time. We’re glued to Lou’s gangly road to success, and we’re often astonished with how far Gilroy is willing to push his characters and the overall theme of crooked journalism.
The first views we see of Los Angeles’ news outlets begging for good footage are aggressive and will turn some off, but Gilroy isn’t too far off. In fact, he’s right on the money with portraying corporate desperation and the addiction of maintaining a prizewinning reputation. Rene Russo plays Nina, a hard-driven morning news director who is willing to go out on a limb to supply an outlet for Lou’s gritty camerawork. The details of Lou’s work are graphic and unapologetic, but if the clips are the most talked about around the water cooler, she’s proud.
The circumstances become riskier with Lou slowly persuading and affecting the stories he’s recording, and Nina becomes hungrier for another hit. The two play a certain game of insider cat-and-mouse as they both become more aware of their surroundings. It’s immensely fascinating to watch, and a pleasure to listen to.
Nightcrawler offers razor-sharp commentary, terrific performances, and a jarring score by James Newton Howard. The composer is usually creating epic music, but decides to lean on more boogaloo influences this time around. Like Nightcrawler and Lou Bloom himself, it slowly grows on you. Soon enough, you’re engulfed and enjoying the hell out of it.