Film Review: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler

Writer-director Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is an unnerving thriller. The film is atmospheric and well executed.

Louis Bloom is a young man desperate for work in Los Angeles. When he stumbles into the world of crime journalism in LA, Louis carves out his own niche…

Nightcrawler works best as a noirish thriller. Pulpy at times, Dan Gilroy’s film is nevertheless engaging and entertaining. There is an uncomfortable fascination with what Louis will do next. This aspect acutely mirrors the content of Louis’ work itself.

From the very beginning of the film, it is clear that Louis will be an unusual protagonist. The character exhibits traits which deviate from the norm. These are sometimes used as comedic devices. However, as Nightcrawler progresses, Louis’ persona and actions become increasingly disturbing. The protagonist is certainly memorable, even if some of his mannerisms appear over played at times.

Gilroy delivers the dark side of Los Angeles in Nightcrawler. This portrayal is not unlike the urban depictions in classic noir and neo-noir thrillers. With much of the action taking place at night, the city is depicted with a cheap fluorescent glare. Similarly, the level of sleaze and exploitation do not lessen in the familiarity of the television studio.

Characters are drawn starkly in Nightcrawler. Supporting characters such as Nina and Rick are given little depth, yet fulfil their functions effectively. Nina is both abhorrent and a figure for pity, whilst Rick best exemplifies the normal reaction to the situations presented. As Louis, Jake Gyllenhaal is most unnerving. His mannerisms and stares function to successfully cause discomfort. Rene Russo is well cast as Nina, whilst Riz Ahmed offers a lackadaisical quality which suits his character.

Nightcrawler stumbles in its attempt to convey social commentary. At times the film seems to strive for condemnation which may seem less than illuminating to viewers with even the barest sense of media literacy. Nevertheless, taken on the basis of a thriller, the film works well. Much like the footage Louis sells, Nightcrawler is sometimes difficult to look at, but harder to turn away from.

Nightcrawler is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 2nd March 2015.