Nightcrawler ★★★★½

Included In Lists:
Strong Performances - Jake Gyllenhaal

Review In A Nutshell:

Nightcrawler perfectly captures the struggling conditions of our times. A time and place where the idea of the American dream would be near impossible; an environment that demands exceedingly high expectations from its workers, hiring only with those that meet the criteria with pin-point accuracy and demand a wealth of experience in order to minimise training expenses. How does one find success in a world that places far too many barriers to achieve it? It leaves young people like me frightened of the landscape in front of me; will this restriction and rise of expectation ever stop? Will my generation ever find the tools to achieve success? If so, will we have to go as far as to sell our ideals in order to climb up the ladder? Do I have to become Lou Bloom?

Lou Bloom is a man who has suffered from America’s economic shift, left behind with very little tools left for survival. This was a man who possessed the tools to get by high school, exceeding the ranks of his young society and doing so without having to put maximum effort in his studies; Lou was a believer, he firmly believed in the American Dream, the idea of a person to find great success with very few barriers to reach it; this was the dream that shaped this great country for the better part of the 20th century. Slowly but painfully, the country began to change, and left him behind with only his charisma and motivation; the lack of tertiary education and familial obscurity has left him in the most difficult of positions, resulting to stealing metal from private properties in order to make just enough to make it through the day. The idea is so painful because it is so real, there are actually people out there, who have sold their souls in order to make do of such a demanding and harsh world, I could sympathise with him as I myself is even finding it to be difficult to gain employment even with a graduated degree.

Lou’s pockets are so empty that the only thing valuable left with him is the idea of hope; and once he slowly loses that with each rejecting and starving day, it may eventually lead him to darker road of self-destruction. Many have fallen during struggling times, but Lou is different, there is something in him that constantly sparks hope and produce motivation; he seeks out for any cracks or opportunities that would allow that American dream to be a reality, to be the individual that proves that there is still a chance for his generation to thrive. It turns out the road may not be as glorious as it seems; Lou’s longstanding position at rock bottom has already left him a damaged and immoral man, and he has taken that with him in his eventual rise to success.

Sometimes in life, we cannot find and capture opportunities for ourselves, sometimes it comes to you through sheer luck or an act of faith, and this is exactly what happened to Lou Bloom. After a difficult night, he stumbles upon a window, an event that has opened his eyes to a new avenue; it seems there is a profession titled, Nightcrawlers, that attempt to capture footage of newsworthy events that takes place during late in the night. These are the people who find success when everyone else is asleep, finding profit in humanity’s vulnerabilities, a profession that has been created because society has forced them to adapt. This was the even that changed Lou’s life for the better, his driving motivation has pushed him to a career with very little pre-conceived knowledge for immediate success, he hits bumps along the way, but with each attempt, he becomes a little better, eventually collecting enough to strike gold.

Unlike many who fall behind, Lou is one who never rests and spends the rest of his idle time to feed information that would become beneficial as he slowly climbs up the ladder. This is a person who becomes slightly lost and addicted to the success that he becomes more possessive of it, seeing the world less with an empathetic vision, viewing inner humanity as mechanical gears rather than emotions, one that leaves him socially and emotionally distant to the people that surrounds him, a self-obsessed man who refuses to let sentimentality get in the way of achieving his purest desires. His gathered information becomes the critical piece for his skyrocketing success, manipulating the elements that surround him in order to shape them in the conditions that suit him. The relationships he has with people are self-beneficial, he brings them in close with enough incentive, until they become aware of his true nature; it is then that he strikes with the tools he has worked to gain, holding it over them and submitting them to the point that their decisions and words lack importance. He demoralises them in order to seem like the most successful individual in the room, and this quite evident in the relationship he has with his partner, which he constantly views as a lower employee, constantly reminding him of his flaws and providing enough credit in order to promote motivation, which eventually catches up with him and attempts to turn the tables around in the third act.

It is in the film’s third act that Lou is at his most devious; he becomes more ambitious with his vision for success, stopping at nothing to achieve it. The film consists of a car chase that ends in such a way that becomes personal to the protagonist, a moment that show the extent of his viciousness, a point where it becomes extremely difficult to find forgiveness for him. Though my hatred for his actions never consumes me because this was a man we have been rooting since the start; we want him to find success, and now that he has it, could we completely blame him for his sins when the world he lives in doesn’t provide the sympathy he deserves when he was at his lowest. Doesn’t nature always thrive with those that possess the qualities to succeed and eventually eliminate those that don’t, an attempt to develop the perfect species for the given environment? Our surroundings are constantly changing and therefore in order to thrive, we must adapt to its specific conditions; a lesson that many prefer not to hear but is necessary, especially in the demanding and challenging world that we all now live in.

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