Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton, Rene Russo
R16 Violence, offensive language, content that may disturb
Verdict: A refreshingly dark and witty satire.
The American dream is given a twisted makeover as Jake Gyllenhaal goes to extreme lengths to make a living post-GFC.
Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom in screenwriter Dan Gilroy's debut feature, a satire set on the nocturnal streets of Los Angeles which explores the sensationalism of if-it-bleeds-it-leads television news.
The story's told from the perspective of Bloom, an obsessive guy struggling to find a job who decides he'd make a great video stringer, otherwise known as a nightcrawler. His freelance role has him monitoring police call-outs and flogging the footage to local television stations.
Turns out Bloom, with no ethical or moral hang-ups, is well suited to his new job and more than happy to push the boundaries to deliver to hard-nosed veteran news producer Nina (Rene Russo, the director's wife) the kind of footage that drives ratings.
It's a great story, told with a dark sense of humour that mocks our voyeuristic desire for grim salacious images by turning the person who sources it into a business success - and a monster.
Bloom is a memorable, articulate character who has learned everything he knows from the internet, and delivers great spiels about work culture, ambition and his own attributes.
He's also wide-eyed, creepy and unemotional, and arrives at the start of the film fully formed. Gyllenhaal pushes Bloom to see how far he'll go, but his character is also one-dimensional, and doesn't evolve.
This doesn't stop Gilroy's bitingly sharp commentary and, even if Gyllenhaal's Bloom doesn't entirely resonate, Nightcrawler is still an amusing, menacing and entertaining film.
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