Review: Nightcrawler

The onset of so-called citizen journalism – whereby members of the public capture the news on camera – is meant to be democratic, but what if the citizen in question isn’t quite all there?

Sounding like an X-Man and, with his up-all-night eyes and clammy skin, looking a bit like one too, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is one hell of a creation; the sort of person you hope doesn’t exist, but probably does. An ambulance-chasing amateur newshound who’s one part Travis Bickle, one part Gollum, he’s the spooky centre of Dan Gilroy’s compelling thriller, haunting witching-hour LA like a sad alien.

Bloom relates to the world the way a psychopath might, showing no human scruples in shooting car crashes and crime scenes to get his footage on Rene Russo’s struggling news channel. He’s a man willing – if not wanting – to look into the abyss, and LA is one hell of an abyss, all lonely, winding boulevards and broken dreams. It’s a savage skewering of the modern media (Russo characterises the ideal story as a “screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut”) with a great, counterintuitive cast. Nice Bill Paxton excels as a ruthless rival, English actor Riz Ahmed convinces as a gullible American intern, and Russo (Gilroy’s wife) has her best role in years as the tough-talking but quietly desperate producer. But this is Gyllenhaal’s film: his best since Zodiac, which it closely resembles. This time, however, there’s not just one random sicko, but a whole industry full of them, and we’re all complicit in making things worse.

‘Nightcrawler’ Movie Times