It is clear to see that in Jake Gyllenhaal’s recent movie performances that his Prince of Persia days are long gone. One of the key skills when it comes to being an actor is the ability to choose films that not only enables actors to explore intricate characters, but also films that can make a visceral impact for viewers. This ability is something that Gyllenhaal has fully grasped in the past two years. He has truly stretched his acting skin in his recent repertoire: End of Watch, Prisoners, and Enemy. He continues this streak with his portrayal of the dedicated, ambitious, and calculating Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler.
Let’s start with the source of the genius in this master piece with the director Dan Gilroy. Nightcrawler is Gilroy’s directorial debut, and the screenplay is his brain child. This film is his foot in the cinematic door, and this can be reflected within the script itself. Gyllenhaal has been quoted saying that he believes the film’s story is the “birth of a cinematographer”. Which then leaves you asking, is this film semi-based on Gilroy’s real life? I certainly hope not. But it is not too farfetched to assume that Nightcrawler being Gilroy’s first film may have influenced the story of Lou Bloom. Gilroy uses the backdrop of Los Angeles as the location for the film. The beautiful and yet haunting aspects of Los Angeles enhances the story and the characters within it. When watching the film, it is also important to note the stories that happen within the background. Gilroy uses this dual story telling technique perfectly as he lets the background and setting have a symbiotic relationship with the characters.
Lou Bloom becomes easily defined within the initial scenes in the first act of the film. Gilroy allows mundane routines that Bloom does help define who the character is for the viewers. Much like the majority of us, we get obsessed with random things that we find interesting. This simple idea becomes the catalyst to Bloom’s road into crime journalism. It is a wonderful growth from an obsession to a career that you witness within his character. The hardworking and dedicated nature of Bloom ameliorates his success, and in his journey we are left to question what was morally correct and what was essential for his career.
The casting of Jake Gyllenhaal was a key component to this film’s grotesque success story of a plot. The typical appeal that is found within Gyllenhaal’s eyes becomes the creepiest aspect of Lou Bloom. As you will notice immediately, Gyllenhaal’s dramatic weight loss adds to the anti-hero allure of Bloom. There becomes a fluctuation of emotions for viewers because his character touches on the extremes of sociopathic tendencies and being a hard working employee. This film will have you hooked from the second Gyllenhaal takes the screen and mesmerizes you with his eyes and the car salesman-esque way he delivers his lines. Lou Bloom is the type of character that will leave you guessing as to what he will do next. It is a real testament to an actor when you completely forget they ARE just an actor portraying a character, and this is exactly what happens in this film. You forget that you are watching Jake Gyllenhaal, as he becomes completely lost in Bloom.
Nightcrawler is a satirical social comment on our modern newscasting, a thriller for casual movie goers, and a definite candidate for a cult classic. The amount of ambition that Gilroy had in writing his screenplay becomes translated tenfold through the big screen with the help of Gyllenhaal’s haunting performance.
Movie Grade: A-