SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Happy Halloween everyone!
Tightly nestled between a rocketing neo-noir and a satire on the disillusioned society of the local news; Nightcrawler is as accomplished, breathless, and wonderfully dominant as any film that has been released this year. Jake Gyllenhaal steals the show here in a performance that will likely become as iconic as Patrick Bateman or Travis Bickle, reveling in a screenplay that blasts off the page with twisted ideologies and fast-paced insults that burn like acid. Yet, the rest of the film is woven around Gyllenhaal's work, resulting in a story that feels both separate and forever intertwined with the main character study at play.
Robert Elswit's cinematography here is simply sensational, perfectly capturing the vast desolation and quiet illumination of LA in the early hours of the morning. The lights glimmer, the neon blares, the shadows whisper; Los Angeles is a character with a personality and a sense of place that hasn't been seen since Collateral or Drive. Arguably, it might be the best location in a film in a very long time.
The direction by Dan Gilroy is particularly interesting, highlighting a contrast between what society wants and what society is comfortable with. The tension, the silence glances, the moments of dark and quick humor; the direction is well-done, if not extraordinary. Personally, while there are sequences of phenomenal velocity, dread, stillness, and tragic irony, the rest of the film is directed well. That's it. However, as a debut, It's about as good as it gets. I can't wait to see his next work, as tremendous potential is shown here.
Jake Gyllenhaal. Thank you. Being a fan of his for while, mainly in wonderful works such as Zodiac and Enemy, his work here is a tour-de-force. Completely deserving of an Oscar nomination and possibly a win, Gyllenhaal loses himself in a role that culminates in a slick and slimy individual that is utterly disturbing and remarkably engrossing. Rene Russo also brings a performance worthy of praise, adding to sections of erotic tension that is beautifully and flawlessly done. Other actors including Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton give their all, and the film benefits from every performance, no matter how small.
Overall, Nightcrawler is a peering, unsettling, creepy, and jaw-dropping piece of work. Part neo-noir, part character study, and part satire on the television news industry; the film is a mixture of seedy delights that startles and charms in equal measure.