Nightcrawler Blu-ray Review
NIGHTCRAWLER is a film that crawls into your mind and burrows into the seediest sections of your self-conscious. You know how you see a horrific accident on the highway and you just can’t look away. You need to know what happened and need to see all the grisly details. It is human nature. You may think that you are lucky it isn’t you or something along those lines. The evening news is filled with stories about crime and the photos that come with it. NIGHTCRAWLER brilliantly explores our obsession with the macabre and our appetite that has to be filled.
Director/Screenwriter Dan Gilroy sets the action in Los Angeles in his directorial debut. Like Michael Mann, he lovingly presents the city in all its glory. This is one good looking film. The streets are gleaming and the shadows are presented just right. Most of the movie takes place at night when the ghouls and goblins come out to play. Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a person on the fringes of society. He is just sliding by trying to make his mark in the world. He’s a skilled thief who sells his goods to construction sites and pawn shops. In an early scene he beats a security guard and takes his watch. He is a person who won’t be denied. He gets his real calling when he comes across a one car accident. Lou notices a man filming a woman getting pulled out of a burning car. Lou asks about employment and compensation. His interest has been peaked.
This may be Gyllenhaal’s finest performance on the screen. He lost over 20 pounds for the role. His gaunt face and body is perfect for this all consuming character. This is not an easy person to play by any means. He has this wide eyed look about him that conveys so much. You don’t know what exactly he is thinking or feeling. Gyllenhaal goes all out with certain tics like wearing sunglasses at night or having his hair a certain way. Gyllenhaal knows how to play this guy and the filmmakers let him go for it.
Lou decides to go for this line of employment with his low tech camcorder. He searches the streets with his police scanner for any action that will be useful to the local news people. At first he makes some missteps. He gets too close that the police direct him and another person away from the scene. But he is willing to go the extra mile to get up close and personal. He’s not afraid of blood or dead bodies. This is the life of a nightcrawler or a stringer as they like to be called. Lou develops a rivalry with Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), another nightcrawler who has been in the business for years. Lou needs some help in his quest to get the best footage, so he hires the eager Rick (Riz Ahmed) to be his navigator and occasional cameraman. Rick clearly doesn’t know what he is in for as he accepts a meager salary. Lou is a voracious reader and studier. He knows about business and how to steer people to his point of view. Lou also likes to get the perfect shot as evidence by him moving a body to make it more dramatic.
In his first break, Lou connects with a local news director Nina Romina (Rene Russo, who happens to the wife of the director). Even though she is twice his age, Lou wants it all in their relationship. He wants to be exclusive to her station with his shots and he wants her physically as well. And what Lou wants, Lou gets.
There is a triple homicide that is big business for Lou and Nina. Lou is there before the cops get there and films the murderers as they get away. He creeps into the house to film the dead bodies strewn out in various locations. It is powerful stuff and comes dangerously close to a journalistic line. Lou cuts out the footage of the murderers getting away and gives the rest to the station. Nina’s colleague isn’t sure about the footage, but Nina sees the potential of future news stories about the case.
NIGHTCRAWLER says a lot of television news and how they can shape how a story gets told. It also tells a lot about one’s guy’s obsession with getting the job done no matter the cost. You may not agree with the actions of Lou, but you will understand them. This film will stick with you for a while and may make you think what is important in life.
Video: Los Angeles looks great on the screen. The night shots are clear and precise.
Audio: This is one film that gets the sound right. You hear everything with no difficulty.
If It Bleeds, It Leads: Making Nightcrawler (5:15): The leads and the filmmakers discuss the film. The director states what influenced him and we get to hear from two actual stringers.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Dan Gilroy, Producer Tony Gilroy and Editor John Gilroy: Fascinating commentary with the three brothers. They talk about the genesis of the product. They discuss how Jake came up with the weight loss and various tics. They even state that they did not know he was going to do certain things, but they just went along with it. Each brother talks about their role in the project.