Film Review: Disturbingly Refreshing, Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’ is an Anti-Hero You Can’t Stop Watching

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – “No one talks like that,” I kept thinking to myself about this noir thriller. But that said, “Nightcrawler” is driven by just about the most entertaining dialogue from one person I’ve seen all year. Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

Despite the fact that he’s living in a warped alternate version of the reality you and I know, you can’t stop listening to the way a narcissistic, zombie-like Jake Gyllenhaal puts people in their place. You know immediately that this typically 180-pound man – who shed 20 pounds to become the gaunt Lou Bloom and is hungry both literally and figuratively – is more than an odd bird. He clearly exhibits sociopathic behavior and that side of him is certainly disturbing, but there’s another side I actually find refreshing.

He doesn’t sugar coat because he doesn’t know how to. He speaks so decisively and matter-of-factly. His words are the epitome of being blunt, straightforward and never beating around the bush. You’d feel sorry for him, but you never get the sense that he’s in touch with his feelings. Lou writes his own rules, never takes no for an answer and is always moving up – no matter what he has to do to get there.

StarRead Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Nightcrawler”.

We meet Lou between odd jobs. Desperate for money and even more so for work where he can feel purposeful, we first find him stealing wire fences and manhole covers to sell under the table. Following a convincing speech, he asks his buyer for a job. “No,” he says. “I won’t hire a thief.”

For the purposes of this film, a “nightcrawler” isn’t an earthworm, a band or a Marvel Comics superhero in “X-Men”. Preferring to work under the guise of the night’s shadows, Lou fortuitously witnesses car crash victims and the fast-paced arrival and departure of video stringers. Listening to police scanners and using GPS to get there quickly, they tape the gruesome scene and sell it to the highest-paying TV station for airing in the early morning.

Immediately fascinated with the voyeuristic job, Lou buys a cheap camera and police scanner. He’s a fast learner, he says repeatedly and robotically, and he learns all the police codes. He’s so committed to learning this craft that he’s only interested in recording humanity at its worst – murder, car crashes, fires, etc. – but never protecting it. Peeping through the lens of writer and director Dan Gilroy (“The Bourne Legacy,” “Real Steel”), never once do you see Lou’s sadness about the misery he’s capturing.

“Nightcrawler” stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Michael Papajohn, Marco Rodríguez, James Huang, Kent Shocknek, Pat Harvey, Sharon Tay, Rick Garcia and Leah Fredkin from writer and director Dan Gilroy. The film, which has a running time of 117 minutes, opened on Oct. 31, 2014. It is rated “R” for violence including graphic images and for language.

StarContinue for Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Nightcrawler”.

Shelley Hennig in Ouija
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom in “Nightcrawler”.
Image credit: Chuck Zlotnick, Open Road Films

StarContinue for Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Nightcrawler”.

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