“Nightcrawler” directed by Dan Gilroy, follows a man’s dark pursuit of wealth at any cost. It focuses on a cynical world of photo-journalism that thrives on images of death and suffering to attract viewers. This is a bleak noir that brings up real concerns about the world, that’s nonetheless flawed and let down by unsure direction. On the surface it looks like a thriller but it’s more dramatic based. It reveals a moment in history where media is becoming more unreliable and deceptive – a society where money talks louder than words. This is a memorably stylish and talky film that would have benefited from better character development.
Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) flashes shifty white eyes with an alluring smile that hides his predatory nature. The movie see’s horror in capitalizing on people’s pain – especially now since its being seen as socially acceptable. Nina (Rene Russo) runs a failing news business that broadcasts violent footage of social instances in hopes of increasing views and ratings. Being denied a job at a scrapyard, Bloom becomes interested in photography after witnessing a film crew on the scene of a deadly car accident. Money is the only thing he cares about and that’s all we really discover about him.
Deciding he needs a partner, he finds out of work foreigner named Rick (Riz Ahmed) – luring him with a small pay rate. With a police scanner they go on the road looking for crimes in order to beat the cops and other rival news networks (so they can get the best camera angle). Their relationship represents an uneven class system, yet it feels unexplored and too-over-the-top to take as fact. Concentrating on the gore and inhumanity of filming real life miseries –it still is incredibly thought provoking stuff. But like last year’s “August Osage County” it mistakes obscenities for profundity. Never allowing the actors to really stretch-out, the film feels monotone and shapeless.
Jake Gyllenhaal is stunning as the titular character, yet I feel the movie restrains him – never letting him truly inhabit someone. Rene Russo is also fantastic, mirroring a character in Sidney Lumet “Network,” who’s sexual and business wiring are one and the same. Nothing feels realistic and it is never guided with enough confidence to pull off it’spulpy ambitions. Much of the tone feels stunted as if the director was unsure exactly what he ultimately wanted. Trying to pull off an array of styles from action to social statement – it never inhabits any of them to the extent that they signify.
(2 ½ out of 4 stars)
(Released: October 31, 2014)