Monday, November 03, 2014


Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler is the story of a man who takes part in an underground world of freelance video journalism as his obsession with getting footage to the news eventually becomes uncontrollable. The film is an exploration into the world of news media and how a man tries to capture footage of crime and sell it to the highest bidder in the news world. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Ann Cusack, and Bill Paxton. Nightcrawler is a dark and gripping film from Dan Gilroy.

The news media is a world where it’s job is to cover the news to the world as news station will do whatever to present the news to the people. Some of which would often toe the line into what is right and wrong where some are willing to exploit moments of graphic violence just so they can boost ratings. The film is about the world of the news media where man takes part in the underground world of freelance video journalism as he brings a camera to shoot grisly footage of crime and deaths where he would sell his footage to a news station for money. Along the way, the man becomes ambitious in his operation where he goes to great lengths to get rich as well as get rid of competitors and such without any sense of moral ground. It’s a film that showcases where greed is the driving force as a man and a news director do whatever it takes to sell a story through the news media for ratings.

Dan Gilroy’s screenplay is very unique for the way Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is portrayed as this man who is just looking a way to make money as the film starts off him selling chain fences and whatever that he stole. Upon stumbling a van where two guys are filming footage of a car accident on the Los Angeles highway, Bloom gets the idea where he had to self-teach into getting footage the right way. While his early footage ends up being amateurish, he does impress a news station manager in Nina (Rene Russo) who needs Bloom’s footage to help boost her station’s sagging ratings. Helping Bloom is a young man named Rick (Riz Ahmed) who took the job to remember police codes and assist Bloom only for money. Yet, he is the film’s conscience as he wonders what he has gotten himself into as it plays into Bloom’s obsession to capture footage to sell. Even as Bloom begins this relationship with Nina that is very troubling where Nina realizes how much she needs him as it plays to Bloom’s own ambitions which becomes more troubling as the story progresses.

Gilroy’s direction is very engaging as he shoots the film largely in Los Angeles and its nearby cities where the city itself is a character that is often riddled with crime and places that are just disturbing. It’s as if Bloom is in the right place and at the right time where he would use his car to drive to the location of the event at fast speed and be there. Even if there’s cops at the scene or he arrives before the cops do as he does whatever it takes to get the footage. Especially if it means dragging a man’s body or enter a home that is already opened and capture what has happened. 

Much of the direction involve some medium shots and close-ups with some wide shots while many of the scenes involving Bloom capturing his footage showcases the use of digital video cameras where hand-held cameras become key as well as the way Bloom would shoot the footage. The footage would become more refined as the film progresses as well as the element of suspense and danger that involves Bloom capturing footage of a homicide where he also captured footage of the killers. The film then becomes this question of morality where both Bloom and Nina are driven by greed as things become darker and more questionable. Overall, Gilroy crafts a very eerie yet provocative film on a man’s obsession to sell news footage to the highest bidder.

Cinematographer Robert Elswit does phenomenal work with the film‘s cinematography from many of the scenes set at night as well as its approach to lighting which adds a dark layer to the tone of the film. Editor John Gilroy does excellent work with the editing with its stylish approach to jump-cuts and fast-cutting for the car chase scenes as well as the frenetic energy where Bloom goes after the story. Production designer Kevin Kavanaugh, with set decorator Meg Everist and art director Naaman Marshall, does fantastic work with the look of Bloom‘s quaint apartment as well as the news room where Nina works at.

Costume designer Amy Westcott does nice work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with the exception of the clothes the news team wears. Visual effects supervisor Connor Meechan does terrific work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects that range from the accident scenes as well as some of the moments in the chase and action scenes. Sound editor Scott Martin Gershin does superb work with the sound to play into the chaos of the crime scenes as well as an eerie scene where Bloom enters the home which plays a key plot-point into the film. The film’s music by James Newton Howard is brilliant for its brooding electronic-based score with elements of guitars to play into the air of suspense and drama while music supervisors Nic Ratner and Brian Ross bring in a soundtrack of mostly low-key electronic music.

The casting by Mindy Marin is amazing as it features some notable small roles from Marco Rodriguez as a scrap yard owner, Michael Hyatt as a detective who is very suspicious about Bloom’s activities, Kevin Rahm as a news editor, Ann Cusack as a news producer, and Bill Paxton in an excellent performance as a videographer in Joe Loder who would offer Bloom a chance to join him as an act of solidarity. Riz Ahmed is great as Rick as this young man who works with Bloom for money as he starts to question Bloom’s own sense of moral as he is sort of the film’s conscience who is aware that some of the things they’re doing is wrong.

Rene Russo is fantastic as Nina as this news station director who is eager to show graphic footage to boost her station’s sagging ratings as she becomes aware of the power that Bloom has. Finally, there’s Jake Gyllenhaal in an incredible performance as Louis Bloom as this very determined man who is eager to make a fast buck through the footage he shoots as he is a man with grand ideas as it’s a role that is very dark to the point that is a very un-likeable yet charming person giving Gyllenhaal one of his finest performances to date.

Nightcrawler is a remarkable film from Dan Gilroy that features a great performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as well as strong supporting work from Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed. It’s a film that explores the world of greed and obsession in a cutthroat environment that is news media and their desire to show whatever to boost ratings and get the attention of the people at its most sickening. In the end, Nightcrawler is a sensationally dark and gripping film from Dan Gilroy.

© thevoid99 2014


Brittani Burnham said...

Great review! I just caught this yesterday and loved it. I hope Gyllenhaal gets some serious Oscar attention for this.

thevoid99 said...

I hope so too as does Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed as they're both crucial to the film.

ruth said...

This looks really intriguing but it's more of a rental for me. I like Riz Ahmed in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, nice to see him getting more roles in Hollywood. Nice to see Rene Russo here too, she sort of disappeared for a while.

thevoid99 said...

Don't rent it. See it! It's really good and certainly very gripping to watch.