Shalom Life | July 19, 2015

TIFF 2014: Nightcrawler

Gyllenhaal is mesmerizing in Dan Gilroy’s latest feature film currently playing at TIFF.

By: Anthony Marcusa

Published: September 8th, 2014 in Culture » Film » Reviews

After listening to Lou Bloom long enough, you might start believing in him and want to follow his leadership. Of course, he is a sociopath, so that granting of legitimacy to his way of thinking and his talents is pretty flooring.

Such is the triumph of Nightcrawler, a taut, aptly dark, and spellbinding descent into madness that follows a, let’s call him entrepreneur and freelance videographer, who looks to rise to success by any means necessary. The thing is, those means combine selfless dedication, attention to detail, and precise communication (all good!) with a lack of morality, manipulation, and blackmail (not good!).

Jake Gyllenhaal is Bloom, a wide-eyed, boyish, almost dopey figure who clearly is working inside his head faster than he’s letting on. We meet him first as a violent thief, trying to haggle with a construction manager for stolen parts. After stopping by a car crash late one night and watching a ‘nightcrawler’ (Bill Paxton) capture footage to later sell to television networks, Bloom has himself a (new) career.

He ‘finds’ money to secure am amateurish video camera and a police scanners and it’s not too long before he is capturing footage of accidents, break-ins, and other terror-related incidents. A tireless worker and learner, Bloom’s independent business well, blossoms and nets a working relationship with a producer (Rene Russo) and her fear-mongering news program that seeks graphic stories.

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler certainly offers some commentary on news driven by terror and blood, but it is more interested in making you undeniably fixated and even sympathetic with the central, monomaniacal character.

Bloom’s growth is remarkable, as are the axioms he preaches; ‘friends are a gift you give yourself,” he proclaims. They would be laugh-out-loud hysterical were they not also coming from someone completely unpredictable and likely homicidal. Gyllenhaal’s terrific performance as a fastidious man of the night is mesmerizing, and Bloom’s ability to compartmentalize makes him a most fascinating, terrifying figure in this ever increasingly disturbing drama.

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