Nightcrawler ★★★★★

"It looks so real on TV."

Letterboxd was down just as I finished watching this, which is a bummer, since I like reviewing movies as fresh as possible, but here's my delayed review at last. It seems that Taxi Driver, Collateral and American Psycho had a baby and I'm in love with it. Nightcrawler is a pitch perfect journey into the dark and relentless cutthroat world of sensationalist news media and the type of mind it attracts.

Lou Bloom is a petty little sociopath living as a small time thief in Los Angeles, hoarding every little item he can scrounge to buildsites and pawnshops. One day he comes across the scene of a recent crime when a team of cameramen jump out of a van and film the whole scene, only to sell it fresh to the highest bidding news station. It opens up a whole new world for him, as he sets out to become the best Nightcrawler in all of L.A.

I have to give credit to Jake Gyllenhaal for his staggering performance, I think this may very well be the best work he has ever done. Lou Bloom is utterly devoid of empathy, and even though he's desperate and ratty, constantly unblinking and looking to further himself in any way, I still feel like I could understand and relate to him on his journey. It was both a dark and gruesome look at the underbelly of Los Angeles nightlife, but at the same time it had utterly pitch black comedic stylings as we travel along with the ultimate careerist.

"I'd like to think if you're seeing me you're having the worst day of your life."

For a directorial debut, Dan Gilroy has crafted something sharp, beautiful, worrisome and sleek. Molded out of the dark foggy nights of midtown Los Angeles and out of the black hearts of American news stations, it says a great deal about our sensationalist greed, our hunger for disaster and about the desperate paparazzi of death, constantly looking to score a scare at the expense of someone else's tragedy, like vultures with high definition cameras.

"Remember, use your zoom, steady hands."

Rene Russo, Bill Paxton and Riz Ahmed are all inspired casting choices as the newschief, competitive nightcrawler and partner in dubious crime respectively, the pillars around the hollow soul of a desperate man, and it's simply amazing to see how they interact with him - a cold, calculating, manipulative and at the same time utterly magnetic person looking for the next big score and perhaps the next big rush just around the corner.

The camera is always used with perfect intent, and I'm happy to report that the team behind the team in this case did indeed have very steady hands and managed to grab the action just right, making for a film that is visually gorgeous but at the same time deceptively dark. Even the score seems to reflect that Los Angeles is a place of neon dreams and opportunities, but wrapped in desperation, murder, failure and tragedy, and that when the lights go down the animals come out to play. There are flawless, almost erotic shots of the camera floating around Lou's amazing car, as we watch with a mixture of fascination, elation and dread as to what horrific opportunity he will come upon next. You'll have to take the journey for yourselves to find out the answer.

Nightcrawler is dark and grim, but potent and powerful. It is also fascinating, and I personally found it quite funny in the most macabre kind of way, and it's all thanks to Gyllenhaal stepping into the shoes of Bloom and living as him for two straight hours. It reminds me once again of my visit to America, where there seemed to be two main types of television entertainment dancing in discords of horrendous harmony: the delicious hamburger and the hypnotic catastrophe, or is it perhaps the other way around?

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