Nightcrawler has never felt so appropriate than today as I opened up my Facebook to a group of friends all sharing the news of recent police brutality when Africa, a nicknamed man who was homeless, was shot dead. Not only is the story distressing as hell, culminating yet again an unjust death akin to a shocking wave of excessive police force, but mobile footage of the death has circulated. Now, whichever way you want to cut – the murder filmed as evidence of police corruption or just that bystander effect – eating your scrambled eggs and being confronted with this footage was a difficult swallow.
Nightcrawler revolves around the nauseating Bloom who is climbing the filthy, greasy pole to become as successful as possible. Gaunt and bug-eyed, he catches an accident and bumps into professional strangers who glide across the roads of Los Angeles to catch breaking news for the morning reports. The fresher the bodies and the more traumatic the accident, the bigger the pay-out. Bloom is automatically hooked and, armed with a small camera, he hunts down the biggest scoops and sells them to a lowly local news station. But like an addict, his cravings for graphic images and success lead him down darker paths.
Remember the first time you saw Gyllenhaal. No not in Bubble Boy but in Donnie Darko where his teenaged cruel grin enthralled you and still bores down into your soul. Well, Gyllenhaal’s intense gaze here is much more alarming and terribly frightening. He melts into the role so unequivocally that his intense gaze is so much more horrifying than the aforementioned Darko looks like a goddamn Disney Prince. Bloom is a psychopath in the purest form. Charming, he weasels his way into people’s lives in order to step over their bloody corpses in the pursuit of triumph. The actor becomes so embroiled in this disconcerting character, a role he famously shed pounds for, that it is hard to take your eyes off his manipulations and complete disregard for humanity.
While Nightcrawler and Jake Gyllenhaal were sorely absent from the Academy Award nominations this year, only earning, quite rightly, a nod for Original Screenplay and losing out to Birdman, it all felt a bit sordid. It seems that Hollywood has no issue in awarding the ego and claps the backs of those that faced adversity. When it does stop sucking its own dick for a second to peer at America’s troubles, it is only through retrospect or propaganda lenses. Where the violence is so far back that they can pop their hands up and say “it was a different generation, so that doesn’t happen now.” Or it is seen through this gung-ho pro-America lens.
Nightcrawler is the antidote. It’s dirty and grimy, filling your stomach with complete sickness as it speeds across the twisting streets of LA. Drenched in this undeniable horror that has been perpetuated by society today. The bloodier the death, the more depraved the people and exclusive the news, the more engaged we are. Gilroy’s triumphant film crawls down your skin, exploiting your own moral judgements and making you squirm in your seat.
What Do You Think?
Is Nightcrawler a juicy thriller?
Or does is not work entirely?
Let us know in the comments below!
Have a look at the Jake Gyllenhaal Essentials!