For a movie that is largely set in what happens in the dark of the night, it’s most terrifying moments come from well-lit rooms and matter of fact delivery of lines. Jake Gyllenhaal presents what can largely be construed as his career defining performance in Nightcrawler. After a long time comes a movie where you just cannot get your eyes of the protagonist (yes Jake is dishy but that’s not what I mean) who is hell bent on chalking his own path.
Jake plays Louis ‘Lou’ Bloom, a jobless educated man who resorts to stealing from construction sites to make a few bucks. On his way home one night, he encounters an accident scene and is mesmerised by the fast-paced thrill of freelance journalists, who shoot the footage. Discovering that not only is he wholly interested in this medium, but it’s also a great way to make some money, Lou invests in a camcorder and a radio scanner.
He shoots violent accidents and sells the footage to morning news editor Nina (Russo), who encourages him to hone his skills and buy better equipment in the process. With single-minded determination to get to the top, Lou goes from one crime scene to the next, sometimes doctoring a scene for his benefit, sometimes shooting footage with the complete absence of a moral compass. Even as Frank Kruse, the news channel editor attempts from time to time, to be the voice of journalistic ethics, Lou develops into a man with dogged resolve to make it in life.
Nightcrawler is as much about Jake as it is about his eyes. His unblinking, protruding eyes, own the role. His eyes are steely in scenes that one expects them to emote. They pace at a time when one would slow down, gulp at the horror and process the crime scene. His eyes behave diametrically opposite to what his mouth delivers. He was rumoured to have lost a lot of weight to fit the part but as much as that adds to the film, Jake and the breathtakingly honest script hold a mirror to society about its insatiable appetite for sensationalism. The film is a chilling look at the deteriorating morals of the media where crime too is rated based on how upscale a locality is or the colour of one’s skin. Nightcrawler does not sit on judgment but instead reminds you that the creator and the consumer of the content are equally to be blamed for this downward spiral of ethics.
Russo plays her strong but vulnerable editor role to the T. She is forceful and meek, and oscillates between both sides within a fraction of a second. She is a treat to watch and is in fact a combination of a lot of women we end up meeting. Paxton as Joe Loder has little screen time but his eyes speak a million bucks in his last scene.
Full marks to Dan Gilroy for such a promising directorial debut. He has effectively used James Newton Howard’s noir background score. Howard, a genius in films like The Dark Knight, packs in a surprising score. There’s upbeat music in chilling scenes and screamingly shrill tunes for high-octane sequences.
The film ends on a strange but wholly believable note though it seems like it could stick out as the only sore point in an otherwise pulsating film. That said, Nightcrawler is one of the best films to have come out this year and despite all the big budget entertainers and A-list directors coming out with films that make more noise before release and leave you feeling underwhelmed, Nightcrawler is a sleeper hit. Forget everything else that’s on in the theatres right now and watch this masterpiece of a film....